The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicked off Thursday in New Zealand and Australia. The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) went head-to-head in its first match against Vietnam in Auckland, New Zealand, on Friday. The women won 3-0, but it was what happened before play even began that had people talking.
When the USWNT lined up on the field for the playing of the national anthem, the majority of the team appeared to remain silent as the “Star Spangled Banner” rang out in the stadium. Just a handful of women placed their hands over their hearts, and this behavior caught the attention of viewers and commentators.
On Monday’s show, Megyn was joined by Emily Jashinsky, culture editor for The Federalist, and Eliana Johnson, co-host of Ink Stained Wretches, to discuss the actions of the U.S. women’s soccer team and why it was a “disgrace.”
USWNT Stays Silent During the “Star Spangled Banner”
While the “Star Spangled Banner” played at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday, only five of the 11 USWNT players on the field placed their hands over their hearts. Cameras caught six of them with their hands behind their backs. Just three members – Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher and Lindsey Horan – sang along.
Megyn commended the women who choose to respect the moment. “Good for those three because that’s an act of defiance now to actually sing the national anthem when your loser teammates refuse to,” she said. In her view, the lack of patriotism is a sign of the times. “I really do believe their version of what a feminist is, what it means to be an empowered woman – at least as an American woman – means to hate your country,” she explained. “It means to go out on the national stage and embarrass yourself and your country by not singing the national anthem and, for several of them, not even holding their hands over their hearts.”
Based on their actions, the majority of the squad does not seem to appreciate or understand what it means to be on a national team. “It is clearly the culture of the team,” Jashinsky noted. As she explained, not honoring the national anthem is “disrespectful” to those “who have put their lives on the line for the country” and makes them look “ungrateful” for the opportunity. “They want the money, they want the power or the acclaim that comes with being part of the team, but they actually don’t want to represent the country,” Jashinsky said. “To me, that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”
The situation, Johnson pointed out, is not unlike the recent change of heart from WNBA player Brittney Griner, who was detained in Russia for nearly 10 months on drug-related charges. “She protested the playing of the national anthem at WNBA games before she was detained in Russia and didn’t stand,” she noted. “And when she came back, she did stand.”
Griner said the national anthem “hit different” once she returned to the U.S. “Is it really the case that our professional athletes now have to go be detained in foreign jail to come to appreciate the liberties they have in this country,” Johnson asked. If so, she believes it is a sad reflection of the education system that you have to experience “despotism” in order to have a “basic appreciation of how wonderful our country is.”
Megan Rapinoe’s Influence
Megan Rapinoe is one of the most recognizable USWNT players. She announced earlier this month that the 2023 World Cup will be her last and came off the bench as a substitute in the second half of the match against Vietnam. As a result, she was not standing midfield with the starters as the “Star Spangled Banner” played, but Megyn, Jashinsky, and Johnson agreed that her influence could not be discounted.
At the 2019 World Cup, Rapinoe claimed she would “never put my hand over my heart again” and “never sing the national anthem again.” Even so, a recent Nike commercial declared the veteran forward to be an “All-American hero” and portrayed her as an animated superhero. “She has no understanding of the world, she has no understanding of history, and she has no basic gratitude for the country that has given her everything,” Jashinsky said.
Megyn said Rapinoe’s sentiment is unacceptable. “You should be disqualified; you shouldn’t be able to play on the team,” she said. “I’d rather have a lesser player out there who loves America.”
A Return to Patriotism
The USWNT players are in the unique and prestigious position of getting to play for their country on the world stage. “Those girls need to represent this country if they agree to represent this country,” Megyn said. “That means standing tall and, at a minimum, putting your hand over your heart.”
What many of the women seem to not understand is that you can be respectful of the flag and the national anthem and what they stand for “even if you think the country is not living up to its potential,” Jashinsky noted. Megyn agreed, explaining the “Star Spangled Banner” is the song that Americans sing to honor “America the idea,” “its fallen heroes and the sacrifices that have been made,” and “the principles that we stand for.”
As it relates to those upholding those principles, Megyn admitted the U.S. is not perfect but that is not the point. “We strive to do it more than any other country on earth, and if you would spend two minutes doing some homework, you would know that,” she concluded. “But you’re too busy lauding yourself in the Nike ads and cashing your million dollar checks to actually give a sh-t about what this country you’re out there representing stands for.”
You can check out Megyn’s full conversation with Jashinsky and Johnson by tuning in to episode 593 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.