In light of the Los Angeles Galaxy‘s historic signing of the first openly gay player to actively play in any of the U.S.’s five professional sports leagues, Robbie Rogers’ official debut came with relatively little fanfare as coach Bruce Arena sent Rogers in with 13 minutes left in the game, replacing midfielder Juninho in the Galaxy’s 4-0 win over the Seattle Sounders on Sunday evening at the Home Depot Center.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the crowd of 24,811 gave Rogers “…a polite ovation…” upon entering the game, which in retrospect is a good thing as it symbolized the notion that being the first openly gay player on an American pro sports team shouldn’t really be that big a deal; that rather than being known as a gay soccer player, Rogers should be known as a soccer player who happens to be gay.
Indeed, just as Jackie Robinson was ultimately judged for how well he played baseball when he broke the color line in 1947, Rogers will ultimately be evaluated for what he does on the soccer pitch, and the Galaxy will react accordingly.
Which they should, as although signing someone who’s an open homosexual was a tremendous thing to do that made an outstanding statement for gay rights, that is a sign of how things have progressed and continue to progress in America.
The ironic thing to all of this is was that it wasn’t Rogers who was the big star in the Galaxy’s win over Seattle, as the 26 year old midfielder essentially played in garbage time, but striker Robbie Keane, who scored three first half goals in the 4-0 win, which in soccer is considered a rout.
ESPN soccer analyst and ex-Galaxy player and front office executive Alexi Lalas said, “…(most people) will remember when (Rogers) stepped on the field. That’s cool. That’s important.”
Hopefully fans will regard Rogers for how he contributes to the Galaxy this season, not what his sexual orientation is.
Which I believe he will greatly appreciate.
L.A. SPORTS HUBBERS: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ROGERS’ SIGNING? HOW DO YOU THINK HE’LL DO AS A MEMBER OF THE GALAXY?