Another gay athlete has emerged onto the scene of American sports, Robbie Rogers has signed a contract to play soccer for the LA Galaxy in the MLS. Rogers was acquired by the Galaxy in a trade for midfielder Max McGee with the Chicago Fire.
Robbie Rogers, 26, is coming out of retirement to join the MLS. He previously has played in England with second division football clubs Stevanage and Leeds United respectively. Rogers also played in the MLS previously when he starred for the Columbus Crew, as well as making 18 appearances for the United States national team.
This all happened before he came out of the closet however. Rogers walked away from soccer last winter, and shortly after released a post on his personal blog proclaiming his sexuality. This comes just weeks after the United States had its first major athlete come out of the closet in NBA center Jason Collins.
People weren’t sure if an openly gay athlete would be able to garner support with either the public or his locker room, however this looks to be another step in the direction of equality. Hopefully this will inspire more athletes to come out of the closet as they no longer feel the need to hide who they are from the world.
The NFL draft provided all of us with insight into the locker room mentality, showing us that there are a lot of people that aren’t entirely ready yet to welcome a gay teammate into the locker room. Former Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward has said that he would support a gay NFL athlete, but doesn’t feel that the NFL is ready for such a player just yet. This statement is supported by the actions of several players in the league, such as Miami wide receiver Mike Wallace, a former teammate of Ward, who tweeted that he didn’t understand “guys wanna mess with other guys” when there are “all these beautiful women in the world.” He later apologized for his comments.
Collins has said the support he has received has been incredible to this point, and that he “hope(s) that every player makes a decision that leads to their own happiness, whatever happiness that is in life.” As more athletes come out, the support should only continue to grow.
Athletes hold a key spot in our society, holding influence over an amazingly high number of youth, as well as many adults. The world of sports captivates almost all of us as a society, and the actions of athletes are talked about throughout the work week. If athletes prove they are ready to not only tolerate but accept a gay teammate, this could prove to be a major turning point for gay rights not just in sports, but in America.
As we look at the progress being made in the sporting world, it reflects on the progress being made in the legal system, Minnesota has recently became the 18th state to allow gay marriage. More and more states are changing their views on this, and the approval percentage is nearing 50% in our country. Athletes have the ability to tip the scales and continue to help us achieve the equality that we all need as members of a nation as diverse as ours. Organizations such as the Boy Scouts, as well as mainstream athletics are beginning to make their efforts, and in the end this will impact how all of us view the issues as well.
Robbie Rogers is a pioneer for the homosexual community, and he certainly will inspire many more to follow in their footsteps as they embrace their identity rather than hiding who they are.
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The Guardian Express