U.S. Women’s National Team star Megan Rapinoe is once again praising former NFL player Colin Kaepernick for creating the national anthem protest movement.
The soccer star praised Kaepernick during her address at Sunday’s ESPY awards where she said that the former San Francisco 49er second-string quarterback has earned a lasting legacy with his anthem protests.
“Colin Kaepernick never shied away,” Rapinoe said from the stage. “He knew that discomfort was essential to liberation and that fighting the oppression against black people is bigger than sports. So, will it be uncomfortable? Yes. In speaking up, will we make mistakes? Yes. That cannot stop us from trying, and not just for a few days or for a few [Instagram] posts.”
In 2016, Rapinoe became one of the first white pro athletes to take up Kaepernick’s protests against the country during the national anthem, even earning herself a rebuke from the National Women’s Soccer League. Soon after Rapinoe began refusing to stand for the anthem, U.S. soccer put in place a rule requiring players to stand during the song.
The U.S. Women’s National Team co-captain continued her protests by pointedly refusing to place her hand over her heart and sing the anthem as it played to start games. Rapinoe continued this form of protest even during the Women’s World Cup played in France.
Rapinoe has since said that she will never stand and sing the national anthem again.
Despite its first inclination to require players to stand during the anthem, this month U.S. Soccer changed its tune and threw out its rule for players to “stand respectfully” during the anthem.
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