Coming Out as Gay Shouldn't Have to End a Professional Athlete's Career


Robbie Rogers, a former midfielder for the United States national soccer team, came out as gay through a post on his personal blog. Rogers, who is just 25, and had most recently played for Stevenage, a third-division English team, also suggested he may retire to "discover myself away from soccer."

Though Rogers received support from fellow athletes — such as Eddie Pope, a former United States defender, who wrote on Twitter, "Brave men like you will make it so that one day there is no need for an announcement" — as well as from his own family (his younger brother, Timothy, said in a brief telephone interview, "I know we are all very proud of Robbie and everything he has done"), it remains to be seen if his decision would be supported by the team sports community at large. 

Though Rogers hasn't confirmed his idea of retiring or at least taking a break from the sport is motivated by his revelation, most gay athletes decide to come out after they retire so the decision doesn't impact their careers in a negative way. And, while some gay male athletes — such as soccer player Justin Fashanu, cricket player Steven Davies and rugby player Gareth Thomas — have acknowledged their sexual orientations while active, they are more the exception than the rule.

And David Testo, another openly gay soccer player, thinks that if Rogers does return to the game, he'd have "a target on his back" — because of the sport’s lack of universal acceptance of homosexuality. "It just shows that sports is the final closet in society. We've made huge strides in terms of support of gay athletes, and homophobia is no longer cool in sports. But the closet is very much in existence," he told the New York Times.