The “first family” of women’s sports is arguably Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe – both champions in their respective sports of basketball and soccer.
Both are also white women.
While this may be the case, Bird is well-aware of the racial complexities of both sports as soccer is mostly played in the United States by white women and the WNBA is a sport played overwhelmingly by Black women.
Bird was a guest on CNN’s “World Sport” with Don Riddell about a Rapinoe article in The Players’ Tribune in which she mentioned why it was so widely celebrated when the United States Women’s National Team won the 2019 Women’s World Cup, but women’s basketball seemingly is not garnering the same level of respect.
To be completely blunt, but also kind of simple, soccer players generally are cute little white girls. And I think basketball players, we’re all shapes and sizes.
–Sue Bird (CNN)
It’s 70-80% Black women, a lot of gay women. We’re tall; we’re big. And I think there’s just maybe this intimidation factor with that.
–Sue Bird (CNN)
Bird also echoed comments that were made by Rapinoe in The Players’ Tribune piece in which she referred to the USWNT as …
…straight, cute, unthreatening, suburban white girls next door.
–Megan Rapinoe, The Players’ Tribune
Let’s be real – we loved it when the USWNT won the World Cups in both 2015 and 2019. Any win for women’s sports is a win for all of us as women deserve to be celebrated for their athletic exploits instead of simply being put in a “beauty” box grounded in misogyny and hegemonics.
But … Bird and Rapinoe are not wrong here. And being Rapinoe herself was with those USWNT teams, she certainly has a wealth of credibility on this issue.