"Women's soccer players generally are cute little White girls while WNBA players, we are all shapes and sizes ... a lot of Black, gay, tall women ... there is maybe an intimidation factor and people are quick to judge it and put it down," Sue Bird said https://t.co/J3Wz9WXOr0— CNN (@CNN) October 17, 2020
The blame is not entirely on the public here, given that US Soccer itself has gone out of its way to cultivate the image of the USWNT as, well, straight. Even as certain players have stepped forward and gone public with relationships with other women, there's been little coverage of that, at least from the team media channels or website, compared to the players on the team in relationships with men. Put "Zach Ertz" into the US Soccer website engine for comparison against Sue Bird or Glennon Doyle, Abby Wambach's wife. Bird results come back in single digits and Doyle comes up a zero, opposed to Ertz's 24.
There is a nice podcast on the site with Robbie Rogers from July of this year, which is notable since he was the first openly out MLS player. However, all of his USMNT call-ups took place while he was closeted, so the distinction of being the first openly out USMNT player to take the field remains for someone to claim someday. Soon, I hope.
It's a positive to see national team players going directly to media about who they are and love. I believe the WNBA deserves credit for blazing that trail and it is sad to think some of the repercussions have been negative. It's also about time for the USWNT team known at one point as "America's Sweethearts" to break from a stifling mold of conformity and fear of offending anyone. It's good for the revolving cycle of the public being fed an image, but also being blamed for that image being cultivated in the first place to stop.