America, as we know it, experienced its greatest shock since it was revealed that avocado toast costs $12 at some hipster cafes. Megan Rapinoe, the icon of women’s soccer, pink-haired and ever ready to make a statement, announced her intentions to leave the country. Why? “I don’t get any respect,” she exclaimed, following a missed penalty kick and the subsequent barrage of criticism.
Twitter, that modern-day Agora of public opinion, nearly had a meltdown. Memes were generated at a rate faster than light, headlines screamed of the impending “Rexit” (Rapinoe Exit, for those living under a rock), and everyone from baristas to bus drivers had an opinion.
But the root of this spectacular decision? A missed penalty kick. Yes, Rapinoe, who had effortlessly navigated the stormy seas of gender inequality, wage disputes, and political firestorms, was brought down by the equivalent of a soccer stubbed toe.
It was the game’s final minutes. The stadium, a cacophony of roars, was alive with anticipation. Rapinoe stepped up. The weight of a nation on her shoulders. She shot. The ball sailed… straight into the welcoming arms of the goalkeeper. The crowd gasped. Somewhere, an eagle shed a tear.
The backlash was swift. Critics, most of whom couldn’t kick a ball to save their lives, descended like vultures. “She’s lost her touch,” they cried. “Perhaps she should focus more on the game and less on politics,” others jeered.
Hours after the fateful miss, Rapinoe took to Twitter: “Miss one kick and suddenly everyone’s a soccer genius. #WhereIsTheRespect?” This was followed by: “Thinking of a new country. Preferably one that values soccer AND sarcasm. Suggestions welcome.