I remember when I first started covering women's soccer and another reporter mentioned the girlfriend of a top player. He seemed surprised at my confused look, then calmly explained that a few of the USA women's national team were gay.
My confusion, though, wasn't because I was surprised that some of the team's players were lesbian. My first thought had been, "Really? Why is anyone hiding someone they love from the public?"
When I voiced this question out loud, my fellow reporter smiled, "Well, they aren't really hiding. I mean, their teammates know. If you cover the team long enough, you'll see their girlfriends often enough that you'll figure out which players are gay. They just don't really make it obvious to fans or anyone else."
Basically, the world at large was kept in the dark. I'm all for privacy in people's personal lives, but frankly, that's not what has historically happened with the straight members of the USA women's team - or the men's team, for that matter. Engagements are trumpeted and marriages are announced regularly on the official blogs for both squads.
It's especially the USA women's team has sold to the public an image of themselves as "good girls". I've long thought that it should be more about athletes as real people.
In doing so, Rapinoe is setting an example not only for some of her fellow teammates, but also for young soccer-playing athletes everywhere to be true to themselves and to who they love.