Today, on his website, U.S. Soccer player Robbie Rogers acknowledged on his website that he is gay and that he was stepping away from the sport of soccer.
Rogers, who is only 25, has played for Heerenveen, Columbus Crew, Stevenage, and Leeds United, as well as earning 18 caps with the United States National Team. Earlier this year, he left Leeds Unit in a mutual agreement with the club.
In the world of masculine sports, it is not easy for a male athlete to come at and tell the world that he is gay, so I applaud Robbie Rogers for his decision, for his bravery in being honest to his family, friends, fans, and more importantly for being honest to himself.
I wish Rogers would not end his career as a soccer player though; at the age of 25 he still has lots of good playing years left in him. If Rogers is making the decision to retire because he's concerned about how his teammates and opponents would receive him, I wish he'd reconsider. While soccer has its fair share of machismo mentality, it is also the sport that seems to have developed more acceptance of the LGBT community, especially Major League Soccer. In fact, I think MLS is much more progressive on this issue than any of the leagues in Europe, and if Rogers were to sign with an MLS club, he'd experience very little negativity from players and fans.
That being said, based on his statement, it appears that Rogers used soccer as a refuge from having to acknowledge the truth to himself, to others. If he feels he needs to retire in order to discover who he is, what he wants, then who I am to question that decision?
Godspeed Robbie Rogers, many of us soccer fans hope to see you on the pitch again, but we know it's more important for you to find happiness first.