World Cup star Megan Rapinoe and WNBA star Sue Bird are America's ultimate sports power couple

Sport is a very lucrative and very popular form of entertainment. But at its best, as Rapinoe and Bird prove, it can also be something more.
Image: Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird at the Alaska Airlines Arena on Jan. 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington.Alika Jenner / Getty Images file
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By Marcie Bianco

Take it from this lesbian: Women’s national soccer team co-captain Megan Rapinoe and WNBA star Sue Bird are without question America’s Best Sports Couple.

This is an absolute, unbiased fact — just like how Rapinoe reminded us that science proves that “you can’t win a championship without gays on your team.”

In 2017, Sports Illustrated listed Rapinoe and Bird as third on its “definitive power ranking of athlete couples”— but this is just rubbish. Unlike the top two couples, both women are not only still playing their respective sports but are at the top of their game.

In 2017, Sports Illustrated listed Rapinoe and Bird as third on its “definitive power ranking of athlete couples”— but this is just rubbish.

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Both Rapinoe and Bird have dominated their sports for over a decade. U.S. national team midfielder Rapinoe just won the 2019’s FIFA World Cup Golden Boot for most goals scored this cup after leading her team in tough wins against both Spain and host France. Since beginning her professional career in 2009, Rapinoe played on women’s national teams that won the World Cup in 2015 and again in 2019. She also has an Olympic gold medal in her trophy case.

The first overall pick in the 2002 WNBA draft, Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird has won three WNBA championships — the latest in 2018 — and has four Olympic gold medals. Combined, Rapinoe and Bird — or "Rad," as I like to call them, since the celesbian alternative, "Birnoe," sounds too much like a cheap box wine — have five gold medals between them.

To recap, that is:

  • 5 Olympic gold medals
  • 4 FIBA World Cups
  • 3 NCAA championships
  • 3 WNBA championships
  • 2 FIFA World Cup

But there’s more to being a sports power couple than just athletic prowess. You have to have that intangible authenticity. In this case, Rapinoe and Bird rise above the rest in large part because of their politics. As Bird phrased it in her recent article for the Players’ Tribune, “our politics are similar.” She, too, would never accept an invitation by the sitting U.S. president to “the f--- White House!”

Bird’s essay was magnificent for a variety of reasons, and certainly aids to our case for their power coupledom. Kudos to Bird for not only writing an essay that defended her girlfriend, but one that also falls simultaneously into the “sorry ladies, she’s taken” genre. (Bird also somehow manages both a closet and scissoring joke in the same sentence — the gold standard for lesbian writing.)

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You might cry, This is subjective left-wing lesbian nonsense! But you would be wrong. Having shared values — like, say, believing #BlackLivesMatter and that migrants seeking refuge in the land of “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” — is the bedrock of any good relationship. And don’t you know that the personal is political for lesbians? This is also why lesbians are some of the best feminists.

Sport is, ultimately, a very lucrative and very popular form of entertainment. But at its best, it can also be something more than that. Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird represent the rarest form of role models. Together, they give face to what a strong, powerful, sexy lesbian couple looks like. They are showing women that you don’t have to sacrifice your sense of self to be successful, and that you don’t have to conform to traditional, heterosexual norms to make magazine covers. And they have great style — even though Bird admitted that she herself wasn’t entirely sold on Rapinoe’s purple-turned-pink dye job. (So, to all those little baby lesbians out there who worry that tomboy fashion is limited to baseball caps and khakis, think again. "Rad" is showing you the way forward.)

Gloriously, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird are showing the world that lesbians are not sad, sorry little creatures waiting — as the popular trope goes — to be murder-showered at the end of some messy dramatic movie (or beloved television show that ends up breaking our collective lesbian hearts). Rather, we are a force to be reckoned with.