Megan Rapinoe, highly decorated member of the US Women’s National Soccer Team, who became a controversial figure due to her protests of our National Anthem, tore her Achilles tendon 6 minutes into her final professional match. In the post-match press conference, she said, "I’m not a religious person or anything and if there was a god, like, this is proof that there isn’t.” This has to be the most narcissistic response to an injury or setback an athlete could have. She is saying, ‘there is no God, because if there was, God would have given me everything I want.’ It would be like a millionaire who prays to win the lottery and when he doesn’t, can only conclude that God doesn’t exist because he didn’t get everything he asked for.
God does not care about the outcomes of sports contests. He does not intervene in the results of soccer matches. With all the suffering in the world, Rapinoe believes that a sports injury to her is all the evidence she needs to disprove the existence of God? Think about the level of self-importance it takes to make that statement. How can someone who has injected herself into so many prominent social-justice causes, claiming to stand up for the suffering and disaffected people in the world, be so self-absorbed, without an ounce of perspective to believe that a minor setback in her life was so profoundly significant?
Babies were beheaded in Gaza last month, women were raped to death, old men and women were shot in the head, and she thinks her insignificant injury is a referendum on God. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl wrote, “suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.” What could the meaning of her injury in her last game have been? Maybe, it was to bring out a sense of gratitude in her. But there was no gratefulness in her words, no thankfulness that she was able to make millions of dollars playing professional soccer for 15 years, and never had an injury derail her career. There was no ‘thank God that this injury occurred on the last game of my career and not the first.’ Or ‘look how fortunate I have been to be able to play this long and stay healthy.’ Or ‘I’m thankful that I live in America and not Gaza or Cuba or Afghanistan.’ Her lack of gratitude shows up throughout her life.
This is a woman who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, yet stood at the White House and said, "I've been devalued, I've been disrespected and dismissed because I am a woman. I've been told that I don't deserve any more than less because I am a woman.” Never once acknowledging that the only reason she has been able to earn any money playing soccer is because she is a woman. If she were required to compete on the men’s team against the men, she never would have made it past the first day. Don’t get me wrong, I completely support women’s sports, but let’s not claim it’s unfair or sexism that the players on the men’s team which produces 15 times more revenue than the women’s team, get paid more than the women players. If the numbers were reversed, Rapinoe would claim it was sexism if the men were paid equally to the women. One could argue that her call to be paid equal to the men, disrespects and devalues the players on the men’s team.
Like her statement denying God, her narcissism continually trumps her gratitude. She didn’t get everything that she wanted in her final game, and used that fact to deny God. But my guess is, whether she was injured or not, she still would not believe in God because she has become her own god. In reference to her injury, she went on to say, "I mean, I don't deserve this, I'll tell you that much. I am a better person than this.” She actually believes that she is such a good person that she should have been immune to injury. Maybe that is why she spent a bulk of her career using her platform to virtue signal the world. Was she taking those political stands because she believed in them or because she believed that doing so would bring success on the field or protection from injury? She thinks how good of a soccer player she was must be on par with how good of a person she is. She believes that she is not only one of the best soccer players to ever live, but also one of the best people.
She is a glimpse into the narcissism that has infected much of our society these days. We live in a country filled with people who at the same time demand total acceptance of everything that they do and stand in stark judgement of anyone who thinks differently from them. And that level of narcissism produces some the worst people, the most insufferable people you will ever come across; people who make everything about themselves; people who show no gratitude or grace. And it seems like those people are everywhere these days, judging you for your “judgement”, not tolerating your “intolerance”.
This virtue driven narcissism is how someone like Rapinoe could play on the United States National Team, and at the same time kneel and disrespect the United States National Anthem, the very country that she was representing. When she kneeled for the National Anthem, she didn’t care about George Floyd. A narcissist like her would not have given George Floyd the time of day if she ran into him in the street. In this video, she ignores and snubs a fan of color instead of engaging with him. George Floyd’s death was simply an opportunity for her, once again, to signal her virtue, to show the world how good of a person she is, to build social justice credits that she believed would pay off on the soccer field.
And that is what all of these social justice warriors are about, themselves. Feeding their own narcissism. The thrill they get when they can stand in moral indignation of someone else, the dopamine rush they experience when they are morally superior to others. And when your morality is driven by narcissism, it leads to many dangerous outcomes, as we have seen on college campuses the last six weeks.
There have been tens of thousands of college students across the country involved in pro-Palestinian protests. People who go to these protests do not give a damn about the plight of the Palestinians. They either hate Jewish people or are in love with themselves. They don’t care who the real victims and who the real villains are in this conflict. They figure out which side will produce the most virtue for themselves, and that is the side they align with, even though, they may be aligning with terrorists. As always, it is not about anyone else but themselves. Regardless of the words, every slogan they chant at these protests, screams ‘look how good of a person I am!” And that’s what Megan Rapinoe has been screaming for the last 15 years and that’s why she has become her own god.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.