Robbie Rogers, MLS Soccer Player, Plays First Game As Out Gay Man
Robbie Rogers, the soccer player who came out of the closet and retired from the sport earlier this year, made his official return to the sport on Sunday with the Los Angeles Galaxy – making him the first out gay man to play in a major sports league.
When Rogers took to the field for the game’s 13 remaining minutes, he was greeted by a subtle ovation from the fans. Other than that, there was little fanfare and scant disrespect. The historic moment in soccer and in sports transpired in a refreshingly ordinary manner.
Prior to the game, Rogers grew slightly apprehensive of how his first time out on the professional pitch was going to go. In an effort to combat his nerves, he called his sister. “I just needed to hear someone’s voice,” he told The New York Times. “We were talking about my dog, just to kind of get my mind off things. I guess part of me was just afraid. I understand that historically this is a big thing. But for me, it’s just another soccer game.
“So I was kind of battling with both of those things. ‘O.K., this is a soccer game. I’ve done this a million times.’ But then obviously I know, I’m not naïve, I know people are watching.”
At the end of the game’s 90 minutes, the L.A. Galaxy had earned a 4-0 victory over the Columbus Crew. In his 13 minutes on the field, Rogers played as nothing more or less than a member of the team. Furthermore, he played no more minutes and looked no better than any other player who’d last played a top-level match in December and had gone into a premature retirement just a few short months ago. Rogers is slowly making his way back to top form, according to coach Bruce Arena.
“I keep saying the word normal, normal, but it was,” Rogers said. “It was just good to be back. I’m excited to move on from here.”