Year in Review: Robbie Rogers' 2013 Season Taught Society about Tolerance, Sexuality, and Sports

By Phil Naegely
robbie rogers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA Today Sports

2013 was a busy year on and off the field for soccer player Robbie Rogers. While Rogers did not find much success on the field, he made some important strides off of it. Overall, 2013 will be remembered as the year Rogers came out as gay, retired from the sport, and returned to become a trailblazer in the sports world.

In February in a very open and host blog post, Rogers shocked many by coming out as a gay athlete and promptly announced his retirement from the sport he loved. He didn’t leave the sport because he felt chastised but because soccer allowed him from being his true self. Additionally, Rogers courageously and vulnerably made this announcement publicly. He could have easily continued to keep it out of danger of being teased for his sexuality, but the opposite happened.

Support poured out from soccer fans, coaches, players, and others after Rogers’ honesty. Many were wondering when and if Rogers would return as it looked like it was only a matter of time. Then, Rogers was traded from the Chicago Fire to the LA Galaxy so that he could be closer to his family in a move that was understandable after going through a somewhat chaotic life with a very important announcement. Then three months after his announcement, Rogers made history on national television.

On May 25 in front of his home crowd and to a national audience, Rogers was subbed in the 77th minute and only played 13 minutes against the Seattle Sounders. While Rogers’ play wasn’t phenomenal or flashy, the focus was not on his play but rather the historic moment. Rogers became the first openly gay athlete and also taught society a lesson that day. Success in sports is not dictated by a player’s sexuality orientation but how they perform on the field.

By no means did Rogers have a lights out season or single performance, but his comeback taught the importance of courage, facing your fears, and tolerance. With rumors suggesting that QB Aaron Rodgers might be gay, Rogers’ trailblazing and historic season should reemphasize that our opinion of an athlete should be based of their performances and not their sexuality.

It takes a lot of courage and trust to come out. Fans, players, and coaches should embrace and accept the player like the soccer family did of Rogers. No matter our sexuality we are all humans, and all athletes have the same goal of playing their best and winning.

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