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Canadian soccer player first out Trans and non binary Olympian

I feel proud seeing `Quinn’ on the lineup- I feel sad knowing there were Olympians before me unable to live their truth because of this world

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Quinn from Instagram

TOKYO – The Canadian professional soccer player, a midfielder for OL Reign and the Canada women’s national soccer team, made history this week as the first openly transgender and non-binary athlete to participate in the Olympic games when they started Wednesday night in a 1-1 draw match in Sapporo between Canada and opposing the team Japan.

“I feel proud seeing `Quinn’ up on the lineup and on my accreditation. I feel sad knowing there were Olympians before me unable to live their truth because of this world,” they wrote on Instagram. “I feel optimistic for change. Change in legislature, Changes in rules, structures, and mindsets.”

Quinn, who came out as trans in 2020, was also a member of the Canadian team that won the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“Mostly, I feel aware of the realities,” Quinn continued. “Trans girls being banned from sports. Trans women facing discrimination and bias while trying to pursue their Olympic dreams. The fight isn’t close to over […] and I’ll celebrate when we’re all here.”

ABC News Sports reported that the International Olympic Committee has allowed transgender athletes to participate at the Olympics since 2004, but until this year, none had done so openly. In addition to Quinn, Hubbard and Wolfe, some transgender athletes are competing without discussing their transition. Some have been outed and harassed online by people who oppose transgender athletes competing.

The current rules specify certain conditions for transgender women to compete in women’s sports. Among them, athletes must demonstrate lower testosterone levels for 12 months before competing, and athletes can only qualify four years after transitioning, at the earliest.

Quinn is not the only transgender athlete participating in this year’s summer Olympic Games in Japan. Laurel Hubbard, a trans woman from New Zealand competing in weightlifting for the Kiwi team and Team USA women’s BMX freestyle team has a trans BMX racer, Chelsea Wolfe, holding down a reserve spot on the team.

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Sweat for a cause: OUT Foundation partners with local gyms

In L.A. and nationwide applications now open for fitness spaces to join network welcoming out LGBTQ+ athletes

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Courtesy of The OUT Foundation

NEW YORK — Whether they are out or closeted, members of the LGBTQ+ community often struggle to find a place where they feel comfortable working out, as many gyms and fitness-based businesses tend to be hetero-normative and mostly cisgender-oriented. The OUT Foundation, based in New York City, seeks to change that. 

Applications opened Tuesday for LGBTQ+ friendly fitness centers to join its already large network of partner gyms, coast to coast, including more than 15 in Southern California, from Burbank to San Diego and from Santa Monica to San Bernardino. 

“Members of the LGBTQ+ community want a space to feel like themselves and not worry about the danger of wearing a rainbow shirt, bringing their partner, or using the restroom they want in gyms,” the organization says on its website. 

The group’s mission, according to its website, is “to remove the barriers that block LGBTQ+ individuals’ from access and participation in fitness, health, and wellness, ensuring their success.” 

The group got its start in 2011 by hosting the first “OUTWOD” gay CrossFit meetup in New York City. Its OUTAthlete Program, sponsored by the athletic wear company Puma, facilitates free, year-long gym memberships for LGBTQ+ young adults between the ages of 18 and 32. Already, the program has helped more than 50 athletes in 32 cities. 

OUTAthletes also receive a 30% discount on branded OUT Foundation apparel, access to a networking group of the 27 current OUTAthletes as well as former members, gifts from participating sponsors, monthly educational sessions, and more. 

The Out Foundation’s Inclusive Fitness Finder is an online tool that provides locations in the nationwide network. To be placed on the map, fitness spaces must raise more than $250 by hosting an OUTAthletics event and meet other requirements. 

Tina Weaver, who took over as executive director in April, outlined at that time their goals in leading the organization. “We are introducing programs that will assist in breaking down the systemic divide of health and wellness for the LGBTQ+ community,” they said. “The OUT Foundation is needed more than ever.” 

Interested business can email the Out Foundation’s director of community and partner engagement, Karina Damiani, at karina@theoutfoundation.org for information on becoming a partner gym.

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End of an era: Megan Rapinoe ends her USWNT career

The two-time World Cup winner and Olympian will finish with Seattle’s OL Reign- As for Sunday’s game, Rapinoe played 54 minutes

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Megan Rapinoe lines up a shot in her final match playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team. (Screenshot/YouTube USWNT)

CHICAGO — The final score was United States 2, South Africa 0. But Team USA’s victory in Sunday’s international friendly was not as significant to the country or to the world as the loss of out gay soccer icon Megan Rapinoe, who played her final match for the U.S. Women’s National Team. 

“To have this night come and to actually feel it and see it from my teammates and from our staff and certainly from the fans, really, it was very special,” Rapinoe told the Washington Post. For this final match, she donned the former captain once again donned the captain’s armband.

The legend walks away from the USWNT at age 38, 17 years and 63 days after her Team USA career began. Sunday marked her 203rd appearance, with a total of 63 goals scored, 73 assists, two World Cup trophies, an Olympic gold medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, not to mention several hair colors. 

And Rapinoe didn’t just score on the pitch, but also led a successful fight for pay equity with the U.S. Mens National Team, as well as being an outspoken advocate for human rights and transgender equality. 

Following the win at Soldier Field, with her fiancée Sue Bird and family among the 25-thousand fans in attendance, the soccer federation paid tribute to Rapinoe with a video.  

“I felt like I was able to grow up in front of you,” she said during a tear-filled address to the crowd. “It has been such an honor to wear this shirt and play out my childhood dream.” 

It seemed fitting that Rapinoe should wrap up her USWNT career in the Windy City, having once played for the Chicago Red Stars, as well as the Philadelphia Independence, MagicJack, Sydney FC, Seattle Sounders Women, Olympique de Lyon, and currently for Seattle’s OL Reign. The team will commemorate Rapinoe’s incredible career at its final match of the regular season at Lumen Field on Oct. 6 against the Washington Spirit.

As for Sunday’s game, Rapinoe played 54 minutes, and although she did not score a goal or an assist, she came mighty close. 

Four minutes into the second half, Rapinoe’s corner kick was returned by South Africa;s goalkeeper but USA’s Emily Sonnett scored with her head. Although Rapinoe set up the goal, she wasn’t awarded an assist since the ball had been deflected. 

Sonnett leaped into Rapinoe’s arms and teammates joined the group hug. They then backed away to allow Rapinoe to strike her famous arms outstretched stance, one last time.

A few minutes later, Rapinoe’s 25-yard free kick sailed just inches too high and rode the top of the net, denying the champion one final goal. 

“I almost got one,” Rapinoe said. “So close. Damn.”

But if there was any doubt Rapinoe felt her work on the field mattered more than what she and her teammates had accomplished off of it, she told reporters at a news conference Saturday that is what she remains most proud of. 

“By a mile,” she said, smiling.

USWNT vs. South Africa: Highlights – September 24, 2023:

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Conn. Sun torch NY Liberty in game 1 of WNBA semifinals

The Sun are led by Out lesbian & coach of the year, Stephanie White. Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals pit the Sun against the Liberty Sept. 26

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Connecticut Sun Forward Alyssa Thomas & teammates celebrate their win over New York Liberty in game 1 of WNBA semifinals. (Screenshot/YouTube WNBA)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Despite going 0-4 against the New York Liberty during the 2023 season, the red-hot Connecticut Sun burned their way to a win Sunday at the Barclays Center. 

The victory comes just one week after the WNBA named Sun Coach Stephanie White its 2023 Coach of the Year, and two weeks after receiving the same honor from the Associated Press

The out lesbian is in her first year as coach of the Connecticut team. White has been outspoken as an LGBTQ+ advocate and as the wife of Michelle Fletcher, with whom she is raising three children. 

In Sunday’s game, DeWanna Bonner — who got engaged to teammate Alyssa Thomas back in July — carried the Sun in Game 1, repeating her stellar performance in the previous round’s decisive Game 3 against the Minnesota Lynx, to once again lead Connecticut to victory.

Bonner scored 15 points in the second half on Sunday, notching seven of those in the fourth quarter, and finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and three blocks, ensuring her team a chance to take home-court advantage later on in the series.

With six field goals made in the game, Bonner moved into fourth all-time in WNBA postseason history, with 362. Her fiancé, Alyssa Thomas, moved into ninth all-time in assists in WNBA postseason history with 10 assists in the game for a total of 213.

Rebecca Allen finished with a postseason career-high 18 points, along with seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

Connecticut shot 44.9% on the day, while holding New York to just 33.8. 

Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals pit the Sun against the Liberty on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 8:00 PM EDT at Barclays Center.

Connecticut Sun vs. New York Liberty | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | September 24, 2023:

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First Out gay active NFL player Carl Nassib announces retirement

The NFL player says his ‘Next Chapter’ is to focus on his mobile platform- ‘I really feel like the luckiest guy on the planet’

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WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Carl Nassib, who made history in 2021 when he became the first active player in the National Football League to come out as gay, announced Wednesday he is retiring at age 30. 

“This is a bittersweet moment for me,” the free agent wrote in a post on Instagram. “But after seven seasons and just over 100 NFL games I am officially retiring from football to focus on my company Rayze.” 

Rayze is a mobile platform that connects people willing to give of themselves with those who need it most, born of an experience in Tampa, Fla., where Bucs players volunteered as mentors to kids being held in a nearby juvenile detention center. Rayze’s website says the company serves to “shine a light on opportunities that need volunteers, while making nonprofit engagement, volunteer recruitment, and donating as simple and intuitive as possible.” 

“It really feels like just yesterday starting out as a walk-in at Penn State,” Nassib wrote in his post. “Football has given me more than I ever could have imagined. I can truly hang up my helmet for the last time knowing I gave it everything I had.” 

Ever since he came out in 2021, the former defensive end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has become a philanthropist for the LGBTQ+ community, especially for queer youth, personally donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project. That year, the NFL matched his donation, and in 2022, Nassib himself matched donations dollar for dollar, up to $100,000. 

According to the Bucs, Nassib played in 99 regular-season NFL games with 38 starts,  recorded 187 tackles, 25.5 sacks, 45 tackles for loss, 59 quarterback hits, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one interception and 19 passes defended. In 2016, he the Cleveland Browns drafted him with the second pick in the third round. At Penn State, Nassib was a star player, leading the nation in sacks and forced fumbles during his senior year with the Nittany Lions in 2015.

“It was not an easy decision. It really, really wasn’t,” Nassib told People magazine in an exclusive interview timed to coincide with his Instagram. 

“This would have been my 23rd football season. I’ve been playing football since I was eight years old, and I’m really excited to move on to the next chapter of my life,” he said. 

Nassib says he began considering retirement last season before becoming a free agent, when he said he was “staying at the Bucs facility until 9 p.m. every night working on Rayze.”

“I feel like it’s my calling and it’s what I’m meant to do,” Nassib says of the app. “I’m really excited to move on to the next chapter of my life and to give Rayze everything that I have.”

In July, he posted that he had accepted an appointment to the board of directors of the local United Way chapter in his hometown of West Chester, Pa. 

Nassib said he is also going to work with the NFL in a new role, in matters related to the league’s philanthropic endeavors and its “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

“I think that I can provide a very rare and specific view of how life is for an out gay player, and I think that there are some amazing opportunities that I can also learn,” he told People.

“Maintaining that relationship shows that the NFL is continuing to support me. They’ve supported me so much over the last two years, and I really couldn’t have done it without that support,” he said.

Nassib said the NFL’s offer to utilize him in this new role “continues to show people that you can be yourself and compete at the highest level.”

But what he’s most excited to do with his time now, he told People, is to spend the holiday season with his family and his boyfriend, retired Olympian Søren Dahl. 

“I’ve spent 11 out of 12 Christmases away from my family, many of them alone in my apartment,” said Nassib. “I haven’t spent Thanksgiving with my family since 2010, so I am really, really looking forward to spending time with my family, my friends, and those special moments. And that’s something that I’ve been looking forward to for years.” 

That’s one of the many reasons why he wrote on Instagram: “I really feel like the luckiest guy on the planet.”

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Out gay tennis stars make LGBTQ+ history at U.S. Open

No. 13 seed Kasatkina is a former Top 10 player and a major semifinalist and will be back Monday night at 7 p.m. EDT to face Aryna Sabalenka

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Daria Kasatkina (Photo by Pete Staples/USTA)

FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. — Following her historic triumph over another out gay tennis player, Daria Kasatkina will try to advance tonight with a victory in Round 4 at the U.S. Open. 

Kasatkina, Russia’s #1 ranked female tennis player, will return to the last 16 after her dramatic contest on Court 17 Saturday ended with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen. 

Both Minnen and Kasatkina are 26. It’s believed to be the first time two out gay tennis players have clashed in a competitive single match in a Grand Slam main draw.

Although gay tennis icons Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova and others have gone head-to-head before Saturday, many did not come out until after their matches.

Despite losing to Kasatkina, Minnen walked off the court in high spirits following the match, saying it was a “pleasure” to make history with the Russian tennis star.

Minnen previously made history in the summer of 2019, when she played doubles at Wimbledon alongside her former partner Alison Van Uytvanck. In July that same year, they faced each other for the first time, in a singles match in Germany. 

Belgian star Minnen also made history later in 2019, when she competed against her former partner Alison Van Uytvanck during a World Tennis Association Tour event in Karlsruhe.

That match, which ended with Van Uytvanck’s victory over Minnen, concluded with a momentous gesture in support of LGBTQ+ visibility in tennis: They kissed at the net.  

Minnen and Kasatkina have met only once before in competition: at the Granby Championship first round in August of last year in Quebec. Kasatkina won that tournament.  

Minnen matched her best U.S. Open performance at these championships, beating Venus Williams in Round 1 and Sachia Vickery in Round 2. Over the first six games of the match, Minnen stayed even with the former world No. 8, saving a break point in the fourth game, and two more in the sixth.  

No. 13 seed Kasatkina is a former Top 10 player and a major semifinalist and will be back Monday night at 7 p.m. EDT to face Aryna Sabalenka. 

As PinkNews reported, Kasatkina said she’s “felt much better” since coming out in July 2022. 

“I put this pressure out of my shoulders because when you have to think about tennis but also to think about some deep things inside your head, it’s just not good,” she said. “I remember after saying all these things, I just felt much better. That was one of the best decisions of the [past] year and I’m happy with the outcome.”

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Out sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson is fastest woman in the world

Richardson was in her first major global outdoor meet as she missed the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021, for testing positive for cannabis

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Sha’Carri Richardson (Screenshot/YouTube NBC Sports)

BUDAPEST, Hungary – Ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Out sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended after testing positive for marijuana. This week, Richardson ran a championship record 10.65 seconds in the final at the track and field 2023 World Athletics Championships on Monday (21 August), taking 0.02 seconds off the previous best set by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce last year and also breaking her personal record.

“I would definitely say it’s a good start,” Richardson said in the press conference in Budapest afterward when asked about her result in her debut major international championships. “From the beginning of the journey, I’m honoured, I’m blessed, it was a great competition and brought out the best in myself. I’m not back, I’m better, and I’m going to continue to be better.”

Jamaican sprinter Shericka Jackson was clearly disappointed. “I definitely have to go back and look at tonight,” she told reporters. “I think I executed as best as possible. Coach and I will have to discuss what I did, I can’t tell you what I did different from what I did in Jamaica.”

Defending champion Fraser-Pryce, who placed third told reporters: “Congrats to Sha’Carri and Shericka, it was really a fantastic race. Last year I ran the 100 in a Championship record and it took a Championship record tonight, so that’s really remarkable.”

Richardson was in her first major global outdoor meet as she missed the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021, having served a one-month suspension for testing positive for cannabis at the American trials which led to her non-selection by Team USA, and did not qualify for last year’s World Championships in Oregon.

American Sha’Carri Richardson becomes the fastest woman in the world:

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Spain wins first-ever Women’s World Cup title, defeating England

Each team featured four out queer players on its roster in the final contest as Spain takes home the trophy after a record setting World Cup

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Spain hoists the trophy after winning the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup final. (Screenshot/YouTube Fox Sports)

SYDNEY, Australia — A tension-filled final match in the FIFA Women’s World Cup was decided by one goal, as Spain shut-out England early Sunday morning in Australia, 1-0. 

Each team had four out women playing in the decisive title game, as PinkNews reported: Lauren Hemp, Bethany England, Jess Carter and Rachel Daly for England’s Lioness team, and Alba Redondo, Irene Paredes, captain Ivana Andres and Teresa Abelleria for Spain’s La Roja team.

The score was tied 0-0 when Hemp had a shot on goal in the 4th minute but it wound up right in the goalkeeper’s arms, and that happened again in the 20th minute. But earlier, in the 16th minute, Hemp had yet another shot on goal, this time hitting the crossbar.

Hemp turned 23 during the World Cup tournament. Her partner is Coventry United footballer Ellie Butler, who plays as a forward for Women’s Championship club team.

Also in the 16th minute, Spain’s Salma Paralluelo found Redondo, who managed to get a shot off on goal, but England’s Mary Earps was there to make the save and keep the match scoreless. 

Earps had another big save in the 17th minute. But then the tide shifted in the 29th minute, when Mariano Caldentey fed the ball to Olga Carmona. With her left leg, Carmona smashed the ball into the back of the net to give Spain the 1-0 lead. 

Spain nearly scored again before the half. As Fox News reported, La Roja had possession 64% of the time through the first half. Both teams had two shots on goal, but Spain had five total shots against England’s three. Spain had 14 crosses, five of them successful; England was 1-for-6. Of their 303 passes, Spain finished 85%, while England had just 178 passes, with 73% of them on target.  

In the 54th minute, Hemp blew yet another chance to tie the match when she kicked the ball just wide of the net. Then in the 65th minute, England’s hand ball penalty gave Spain a penalty kick opportunity to score again. Earps dove to deny Jenni Hermoso’s attempt to give Spain a two-goal lead. 

Despite Earps’ miraculous save, England was unable to take advantage of the shift in momentum, even with roughly 13 minutes of stoppage time. The Lionesses did a better job possessing the ball in the second half but failed to capitalize on that, even on one final rush in the 104th minute and a corner in the 105th.

After only making it to the Round of 16 in 2019, the women of Spain won their first World Cup title in three tries. At 32, Paredes, a former captain and one of only three senior players on the team who have won more than 100 caps for La Roja, was unsure she’d ever reach this milestone. 

But they did. 

Paredes is married to field hockey defender Lucia Ybarra and together the pair welcomed a little boy Mateo, in September 2021.

Spain takes home the trophy after a record setting World Cup, in which the champion USWNT was eliminated earlier than ever before, and a record number of out LGBTQ+ players and coaches took part

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Trans women have “no right to participate” in Women’s Chess

International Chess Federation released new guidelines targeting trans female players. The guidelines also strip trans men’s titles

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Photo by Erin Reed

By Erin Reed | LAUSANNE, Switzerland, – In recent months, the discussion surrounding transgender participation in sports has intensified. Several sports organizations have ruled that transgender women cannot participate in their competitions.

This trend has expanded beyond traditional sports like swimming, touching even disc golf and billiards, based on perceived “advantages” of transgender athletes. The reaction to trans people in competition has grown to include non-sporting contests like beauty pageants and Jeopardy! after seeing transgender success.

Now, FIDE, the world’s foremost international chess organization, has introduced guidelines that would revoke titles from transgender men and bar many transgender women from competing, asserting that trans women “have no right to participate.”

The regulations, reported online by French transgender FIDE master, Yosha Iglesias, spell out a list of policy changes that apply to transgender competition in chess. Among the policy changes:

  • Transgender men must relinquish their titles after transitioning.
  • Transgender women can keep their male titles.
  • Transgender women have “no right to compete” in the women’s division.
  • Transgender women will be “evaluated” by the FIDE Council on if they will be allowed to compete in a process that may take up to 2 years.
  • FIDE can mark transgender players as “transgender” in their files.
  • Gender changes must be “comply with the player’s national laws” and may include birth certificate documents (despite many nations refusing to change transgender birth certificates)

See the main page on transgender participation from the organization:

The unveiling of these regulations drew widespread ridicule, with numerous individuals challenging the notion that transgender women possess a “natural advantage” in chess. According to the chess news site Chessbase, the women’s category in chess exists to encourage increased participation among women, not because women inherently perform at a lower level in the game. Thus, the typical arguments against transgender women competing don’t hold water, as it’s implausible to claim that transgender women have an unfair advantage.

This isn’t the first instance of scrutiny regarding transgender participation in non-physical competitions. In 2022, transgender Jeopardy champion Amy Schneider set the record as the highest-winning woman in Jeopardy history. Following her success, several anti-trans voices online claimed she unfairly took the title from “real women,” suggesting that transgender women possess an inherent advantage in trivia over cisgender women.

The regulations are harmful and discriminatory towards transgender individuals. The logic behind revoking titles from transgender men transitioning from the women’s category is not explained anywhere in the document. Additionally, these rules would delay transgender women from competing for up to two years while their gender is examined, and could even prohibit them indefinitely. Given that the usual “unfair advantage” argument doesn’t logically apply in this context, these regulations appear to unfairly target transgender individuals while sidestepping even the usual arguments against trans competition.

The enforcement of these policies remains unclear. Iglesias took to Twitter, asking, “Am I woman enough?” She listed the FIDE council members, sharing photos that depict the majority as older cisgender men, adding, “these people will decide.” The documents don’t specify how decisions regarding a transgender member’s participation will be made. Until further clarity, transgender international chess players face uncertainty about their continued involvement in the sport.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here: https://www.erininthemorning.com/

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Brittney Griner leads Phoenix Mercury team into history books

Mercury set a WNBA record with 45 points in the first quarter. No team in league history has ever scored that many points in a quarter

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Brittney Griner shown in this file screenshot from the Phoenix-Atlanta Game, August 2023.

PHOENIX, Ariz. — The Phoenix Mercury head to Seattle tonight with a two-game winning streak and a historic home victory over the Connecticut Sun that landed them in the WNBA’s annals of fame. 

Center Brittney Griner and her teammates guards Maria Jefferson, Diana Taurasi and center Megan Gustafson combined to set a WNBA record, with 45 points in the first quarter of Thursday’s game, shooting an incredible 94.1% from the floor in that quarter alone. No team in league history has ever scored that many points in a quarter.  

As The Spun reported, the Mercury enjoyed a 21-point lead until the Sun roared back in the second quarter and cut their lead to four at halftime. Phoenix won by six, 90-84. 

Out lesbian Brittney Griner led her team with 21 points and 10 rebounds, with Jefferson right behind her with 17 points and five assists. Taurasi and Gustafson finished with 16 and 10 points respectively. 

Griner will be looking for payback tonight against Seattle, a week and a day since she returned from a three-game mental health break. The Storm beat the Mercury at home at Footprint Center in Phoenix on Aug. 5, in her first game back on the hardwood. As the Los Angeles Blade reported, Griner decided to put her mental health first for awhile. 

“You can’t plan for when you might need some time,” Griner told ESPN when asked if there had been a specific plan coming into the WNBA season for her to have a break. “I just want to shout out the Phoenix Mercury organization. From the jump, they were there for me, making sure I was good, letting me know that at any moment if I needed some time off, I could do that.”

Despite the Mercury’s 97-91 loss in her comeback game, Griner scored 22 points, six rebounds and four assists. 

So far this season, she’s played in 21 of the Mercury’s 27 games after missing all of the 2022 season because of her arrest in Russia and the 10 months she spent in a gulag before being freed in a prisoner exchange
Although she was off the court for the Mercury’s games at Chicago and Indiana and against Atlanta, Griner was on hand for that win over the Dream, watching as Taurasi made history of her own by hitting the career 10,000-point mark.

Phoenix Mercury vs. Connecticut Sun | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS :

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World Cup Elimination: Women’s Team USA loses to Sweden

‘This Is Like A Sick Joke,’ says Megan Rapinoe on World Cup elimination as Team USA loses in penalty kick shootout decided by centimeters

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‘This Is Like A Sick Joke,’ says Megan Rapinoe on World Cup elimination as Team USA loses in penalty kick shootout decided by centimeters. (Screenshot/YouTube Fox Sports)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Sweden’s superior goalkeeper, three missed penalty shots by Team USA and technology called the “Video Assistant Referee” combined to eliminate the Americans from the FIFA Women’s World Cup Sunday. 

Sweden defeated the world’s top-ranked team, 5-4, on penalties after a scoreless draw in the round of 16, the first round of the knockout stage. The stunning result of their best performance so far in this tournament shocked the U.S. women, who had never finished worse than third at any previous World Cup. 

“This is like a sick joke,” said Megan Rapinoe, 38, as she reflected on what she’s said will be her final World Cup game. “For me personally, this dark comedy. I missed a penalty.” 

When Rapinoe’s critical shot went over the crossbar, her immediate reaction was to hang her head and laugh at herself, before rejoining her teammates in tears. 

Then Sophia Smith went way wide, and Kelley O’Hara’s shot hit the post. 

The deciding goal by Lina Hurtig was so close, the referees had to turn to technology to determine if it was good. 

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who scored a penalty against Sweden’s goalkeeper Zecira Musovic of Chelsea for Team USA in the shootout, thought she had saved the game and extended it to an extra penalty kick period when she swatted Hurtig’s shot up and away from the net. But VAR showed the ball had fallen back down, just barely over the goal line, and all the way over, as is required by the rules. 

“We just lost the World Cup by a millimeter,” said Naeher. “That’s tough… We had great chances, hats off to the Swedish goalkeeper for a number of great saves on her end to keep it at 0-0. I’m proud of the battle, proud of the group. We showed that American mentality again that’s been standard for this team. To come up short hurts, it’s going to hurt for a long time.”

As Naeher said, the match was scoreless through 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of extra time, and Team USA came close so many times, especially when Alex Morgan, their leading goal scorer, was in control. But Musovic stood in her way as well as against Trinity Rodman and Lindsey Horan. 

“I’m devastated, it feels like a bad dream,” said Morgan. “I feel like we dominated tonight but it doesn’t matter… we are going home, it’s the highs and lows of the sport of soccer.”

“I thought we played really well,” Rapinoe said. “I’m so happy for us that we went out like that, playing the way that we did, and having a ton of joy on the ball.”

But their biggest joy went unfulfilled. Rapinoe had gone into the tournament hoping to win her second World Cup, a third consecutive title for her team. 

Sunday’s match was historic on multiple levels. No other team has dominated the World Cup like the U.S Women’s National Team. The Americans boast four titles in their trophy cabinet, the most by any women’s soccer team. And up until this game, in every World Cup appearance, the USWNT has managed to at least secure a spot in the semifinals. Their loss marks the earliest exit by the USWNT at any major tournament, having reached the semifinals at all but one World Cup and Olympics. In an eerie coincidence, it was at the 2016 Olympics in Rio that the USWNT lost on penalties to Sweden.

This was also the first 2023 World Cup game to go to extra time. Until Sunday, no 2023 World Cup game had gone to penalty kicks. And it took a seventh round of penalties to determine the winner. 

So now the Americans head home and to their respective clubs, while Sweden advances to play Japan in a quarterfinal Friday in Auckland, New Zealand.

“This is the balance to the beautiful side of the game,” said Rapinoe after the match. “I think it can be cruel and, not our day, but I still feel really grateful and joyful and…” The out lesbian icon’s voice cracked as she paused to sum up her feelings to a Fox Sports reporter.

“I know it’s the end, and that’s sad, to know this is the only time I’ve been in one of these, this early, says so much about how much success I’ve been able to have, and just how much I’ve loved playing for this team and playing for this country. It’s been an honor.” 

Rapinoe then wiped away tears, calling their victory to win equal pay, “changing the world forever” — as well as the teammates she’s played alongside — that is what has meant the most to her. 

The USWNT thanked fans on social media and First Lady Jill Biden shared a message of thanks to Team USA. 

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