Megan Rapinoe says female athletes face unique expectations

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Megan Rapinoe stopped by Snacks to talk about everything ranging from fashion to the Olympics to what it’s like navigating the press as a professional athlete.

The U.S. women’s national team and OL Reign striker spoke with co-hosts Lynn Williams and Sam Mewis about the discrepancies between men’s and women’s sports when it comes to press conferences. About 37 minutes into the episode, Rapinoe addresses the tough questions women’s sports stars often face because of their identities, topics she feels comfortable with personally because of her familiarity with them.

“When I’m with my teammates, I like to talk about these things,” she says. “When I’m with my friends, I like to talk about these things. So it’s a little easier because I don’t feel like it’s such an on and off.”

That doesn’t mean she and other athletes don’t get tired of being asked the heavy questions, which Rapinoe says are more common in women’s sports.

“I honestly feel like female athletes get put in this position where we are naturally going to be asked about every single situation that’s happening, whether we want to or not, because we’re at the intersection of so many issues,” she says.

“That sometimes is a little unfair because men’s sports just don’t get asked about that. If LeBron James doesn’t wanna talk about whatever, no one is just gonna randomly ask him that question or ask him questions about that.”

Rapinoe says she feels added pressure to stay up on social and cultural issues but also recognizes that the ability to speak knowledgeably about certain topics can give athletes an important platform.

One example she gives is the national debate over trans women competing in women’s sports.

“I’m like, ‘Oh, all of a sudden, now you care about women’s sports?’ Because like, we haven’t seen all of these people care about our sport the whole time,” Rapinoe says. “So now it’s an opportunity to be like, ‘No, this is what’s actually happening and this is what our sport actually needs and this is how we all feel about it.’

“I feel a sense of, not just responsibility, but pride in being able to do that and being one of the players that’s able to do that.”

Listen to the full conversation with Mewis, Williams and Rapinoe here.