After years of winning on and off the field, soccer phenom Rapinoe has finally been chosen for the honor.
2019 has been, without a doubt, soccer star Megan Rapinoe's year. From pissing off United States President Donald Trump to winning the Golden Boot and Golden Ball awards at the FIFA Women's World Cup, she has been on a roll. Now, she's got another reason to celebrate — she was chosen by Sports Illustrated as their Sportsperson of the Year. There couldn't possibly be anyone else who deserves the accolade more than her. While this is a cause for celebration, Rapinoe is only the fourth woman to be given the honor alone, The Washington Post reports. And that is a problem.
On her Sports Illustrated cover, she is seen wearing a Valentino dress and a pair of Maison Margiela shoes. She is also carrying a sledgehammer, possibly because she's here to smash the patriarchy that is holding her, and all women athletes, back. While posing for the cover photo, the magazine claimed she stated, "What about a smirk? It’s kind of like a little f*ck you. I’m coming." And she is. She really, really is. Rapinoe joins Chris Evert, Mary Decker, and Serena Williams, the three other women who have earned the title by themselves in the past 66 years of Sports Illustrated history. That says a lot more about the systemic gender bias in sports than anything else ever could.
According to the magazine's Jenny Vrentas, she wasn't chosen simply for the fame she's been enjoying lately. "[Our choice is] not because of her newfound fame but because of how she’s handled it," Vrentas affirmed. "She owned the biggest moment of her life and silenced all the doubts." Ever since the acclaimed soccer player refused to visit the White House on account of Trump's poor track record as President, she has used her power, influence, and stardom to raise awareness about issues that most athletes choose not to. She joined former NFL player Colin Kaepernick in taking a knee, standing up against corrupt police departments and police brutality against Black folks. She is a fierce advocate for several LGBTQIAP+ organizations, such as the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) as well as Athlete Ally. And honestly, she's just a kickass woman who has stolen all of our hearts.
In addition to all that, on the field too, she's built for success. In 2012, she was one of ten women soccer players shortlisted for the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award. Two years later, she was inducted into the Shasta County Sports Hall of Fame. And, of course, earlier this year, she was named The Best FIFA Women's Player. These are only a few of her numerous accomplishments, which goes to show that there's no one but Rapinoe who should have been Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year. It's been a long time coming. While Rapinoe continues to fight for gender and racial equality in soccer, sport in general, and beyond, we are all rooting for her.