Chicago Fire fans briefly had something to get excited about. Chicago bought the rights to ex-MLSer Robbie Rogers who had left US professional soccer back in 2011 from the Columbus Crew and began a brief stint with third tier English team Stevenage.
After moderate success and getting healthy once more, Robbie Rogers was given a chance to compete in the MLS, a booming league, on his home turf, where he could become one of the leagues common success stories.
However, we learned today that Robbie has been struggling for years with a secret he blames all his on the field struggles for as well as his injury issues.
He describes dealing with his hidden issues as causing him to play a frustrated unfocused game. Which put him in bad positions, sometimes causing him injury.
Just by watching his play from back in 2011, no one can disagree.
But this big secret? It’s his sexuality stupid.
No seriously. After hearing news that he had been purchased by the Chicago Fire, he came out to the world. He claims that he can’t struggle with it any longer.
This is troubling. Robbie Rogers announced something else during his emotional online declaration. He says it’s time to step away from soccer. He’s only 25 and even with injuries, that is just far too young for retirement.
First of all, it’s important to point out that many, many soccer players in the MLS and even MLS Commissioner extraordinaire Don Garber has rallied to his support. Saying he was heroic for coming out, facing his detractors and bigots alike.
Stars like Herculez Gomez, Amy Wambach, and Eddie Pope defended Roger’s decision to come out showing support for his honesty and his right to be who he is.
But all of this really is only one part of the story. Regardless of how unpopular he just made himself in some circles of US sports, and I do mean SOME. He was bought by the Chicago Fire. He should honor that investment. He should really rally his own inner strength, face his hate filled detractors and play the game that made him a star.
The US soccer team once had high hopes for Rogers. They needed goal scoring chances and placed a lot of stock in his future. Injuries or not. He has a chance. As an out spoken member of the gay community he has a chance to show the world. You can be openly gay, an athlete, and successful at the same time.
Coming out should not mean retirement like it has in the NBA. What matters, the game. Not to seem completely cruel. But the kid has some talent. The MLS needs talent to grow. US soccer as an immerging force in the world, needs all hands on deck.
Most fans aren’t going to care if he’s gay. In fact, most wouldn’t have ever known about it if he hadn’t selected this manner of making the announcement. As a matter of fact. It would have been so much better for everyone involved to simply come out in his announcement and state something to the effect “I can’t wait to get better, play hard, and show my new team how much of an asset I am to their team.”
That’s an athlete the MLS needs.
I hope Robbie gets to discover himself outside of soccer quickly. That way he can realize at 25 he has a lot of good soccer left in him and plenty of time after age, let’s say 38, to discover himself fully.
I am a MLS fan first, a fan of players and teams second, and I don’t give any credence to an athletes sexual preference until it becomes a criminal problem. I mean, come on, Ben Rothlesburger is straight, and he rapes women. So let’s give Robbie the benefit of the doubt here. He has no criminal record. He isn’t a deviant. He is choosing a different life than some of you. Big deal. It’s called a private life for a reason. It has no bearing on Futbol.
Kobe Bryant gets accused of rape and buys his way out of trouble. It’s not even a story anymore. But if he had come out as gay, and say, raped a man. It would continue to be a story. Why?
Not because being gay is just wrong. It’s because, so long as we make it a social stigma. So long as we make it a big deal publicly, It will just continue being a big deal.
Ultimately, as sports fans we don’t have to like every decision our favorite athletes make. I hate the fact that Tiger is obsessed with blonde women and ruined his situation as a fantastic role model in the process. But we can still admire his on the course achievements and accept he isn’t who we thought he was. GET OVER IT! Let Robbie Rogers know you demand every last talent US soccer has manufactured. It’s time to play Robbie. It’s not time to turn you back and run. You did a courageous thing in coming out. But then you did a cowardly thing in running away. Face the world. Stand proud. Being who you are is not anyone’s business. If you can play the game. Play it. Leave the rest for people with no talent or morals to concern themselves with. There is very little chance you’ll be facing many of them on the field anyway.
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