In The Clutch,’ Megan Rapinoe Engagement

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The increased attention in women’s basketball is in part thanks to college name, image and likeness (NIL) deals that can heighten players’ exposure and grow their fan bases — so much so that those fans continue following the players after they graduate and join the WNBA, Bird says. The NCAA allowed athletes to start participating in NIL activity beginning in 2021. Iowa’s Caitlin Clark has deals with Gatorade, State Farm and Nike. Stanford’s Cameron Brink has deals with Bumble and Sprouts Farmers Market. Both players have declared for the 2024 WNBA draft, and Bird expects their fame to continue growing the league.

“They’re just going to carry all that momentum, all that coverage, all those brand deals, all the fan base (into the WNBA),” she says. “I don’t know why there was a disconnect before. I always say, ‘Me, Nneka (Ogwumike), name it — we all were in college. We were the same ones you were cheering for in college. Why didn’t you go over here with us?’

“A lot of it has to do with media coverage, and the WNBA just got lost in the sauce a little bit. NIL deals are going to help bridge that gap because people are going to follow these athletes.”

Stacy Hansmeyer holds up Sue Bird
UConn’s Sue Bird (middle) in 2000 during a UConn game against Penn State.Hartford Courant / Getty Images

Sue Bird on retired life with fiancée Megan Rapinoe

In the meantime, Bird says she is enjoying her personal life with her fiancée, Rapinoe, who also recently retired after a long and successful career in women’s sports. Rapinoe is arguably one of the most famous and successful soccer players of all time and earned two FIFA Women’s World Cup titles and two Olympic medals during her time with the U.S. women’s national soccer team. She was also a huge advocate in the team’s fight for equal pay.

Bird and Rapinoe revealed they were engaged in October 2020 when Bird shared a photo to her Instagram page showing Rapinoe down on one knee putting a ring on her finger poolside.

A few weeks later, Rapinoe explained in an interview that her proposal was actually a bit “spontaneous.”

“Well, in true and typical Megan fashion, I really do plan things, and I do think about them,” Rapinoe said. “I just don’t actually have a plan so I had been thinking about it for a while, thinking about it really every day for a number of months.”

“It was really sweet and beautiful and spontaneous but planned at the same time,” she added.

Now that they’re both retired, the couple have more time to spend with each other, Bird says.

“We’re around each other a lot, so quality time’s actually not difficult,” she says while laughing. “Sometimes we’re like do we need to get away from each other? And then we’re both like, no, we like this.”

“We’re kind of not boring, but we do the same things everybody else does,” she says of their bonding activities.

She adds that like many couples, the two of them debate what to eat and what to watch every day.



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