A reader writes:
I know you aren’t big into sports, but I thought you’d be interested in something that’s making a few waves in the soccer world. Robbie Rogers is an American player who has played for the Columbus Crew and Leeds United. Early this morning, he announced on his blog that is gay and that he is retiring from soccer. He had some injury issues at Leeds, so I’m hoping that is the reason he’s hanging up his cleats. His blog post is here.
Another tempers the enthusiasm:
It’s too bad that he felt the need to wait until he quit the game to come out. I’d be very surprised if he’s the only gay man playing professional soccer. On the US women’s team there is at least one active player who came out of the closet.
Sure, soccer is not one of the Big 3 (not really close), but still, MLS averages about 18,000 fans per game, they’re on TV, top players are at least somewhat well known (David Beckham played here, after all!), etc. It ain’t nothin’.
Robbie Rogers made some appearances with the US National Team and recently played in England, and he’s only 25. He has been a top US player and he’s not old enough for his career to be over. He’s stepping away from the game, but if, as I hope, he comes back to MLS, he could be the first openly gay male athlete to compete in an American professional team sport.
Most interesting/encouraging were the reactions from other American soccer players, suggesting that he would be more than accepted. These are current and former top players, and their reactions were immediate and unequivocally supportive. My favorite was Eddie Pope’s: “@robbierogers Brave men like you will make it so that one day there’s no need for an announcement.That day can’t arrive soon enough.#Support”
The outpouring of support from fellow players and fans has been big. Top players from around the league and the national team all showing him public support and love. Marc Burch was one of the first players to reach out and support him. Marc plays here in Seattle and while an otherwise nice guy, he let loose a vile slur at an opposing goalkeeper who was time-wasting in a playoff match at the end of last season. The reaction here was immediate and furious (obviously Seattle isn’t the kind of city where that would go well and soccer fans are an especially liberal crowd). He’s done a lot to show his remorse and reach out to the gay community, but it was good to see him immediately accepting and supporting Rogers.
Other signs of progress in the pro-sports world here.