Skip to content

American soccer nation demonstrates overwhelming, inspiring support for Robbie Rogers

Feb 16, 2013, 9:05 AM EDT

Rogers 3 Getty Images

I am remarkably proud of our soccer nation today.

Going way back, I have always thought of soccer fans as a slightly more enlightened breed. Historically you cannot have worn the soccer label in this country without some ability to think for yourself; there was always a ninny out there telling you to get in line and support the “traditional” American sports.

Friday proved it, when a person previously reluctant to be the best version of himself brought out the very best side of the collective U.S. soccer supporter nation.

Robbie Rogers did something on Friday that took tremendous courage, coming out as a gay man. The American soccer supporters reacted with an overwhelming, inspiring show of support.

Men’s professional sports remain hard-wired into a certain machismo and some corresponding old ways of thinking when it comes to matters of women and sexuality. Individually, we may have become more enlightened and permissive as a society, but evolution within a group dynamic has been harder to come by.

Believe it: what Rogers did took vast stores of backbone.

Even at the highest levels, they did more than just let Rogers know what he did was OK; they acknowledged the breakthrough and the bravery:

source:

Rogers has appeared 18 times for the full national team. That’s exactly what helped make this so significant and newsworthy; Rogers was hardly some obscure figure in the game, once among the most promising young American talent. A 2008 Olympic team member, the speedy left winger quite nearly landed a World Cup roster spot back in 2010, just as he turned 23.

From the playing community, the outpouring was nothing short of inspirational, so much of it delivered publicly via Twitter, so many punctuated by a hashtag of earnest admiration and understanding: #respect

(MORE: Great insight into Rogers’ weighty decision)

And so many were more than just “We got your back.”  Longtime U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller, for instance, said what was on so many minds, something becoming more and more evident as the public support mounted. “The bravery of Robbie Rogers in commendable, I hope he realizes that he doesn’t need to retire. He will be more supported than he knows”

MLS players gathered in Arizona for a preseason tournament were scheduled for a round of video interviews, so they took the opportunity to support Rogers on camera.

The Seattle Sounders did a video of their own. That was capped with an MLS public service message where prominent players, including Landon Donovan and Dwayne De Rosario, advised that the league was a no-bullying, no-racism, no-sexism and no-homophobia zone. It also included a statement of support from Marc Burch, who was caught on camera last year in bigoted moment. (Burch subsequently and profusely apologized for his poor choice of words.)

Players from the league champion LA Galaxy voiced their support.

Like Burch, Galaxy midfielder Colin Clark had a particularly bad moment in 2012. He was suspended early last year for directing a homophobic slur toward a young ball boy (for which he went out of his way to humbly make amends). So Clark’s show of support particularly resonated.

source:

Meanwhile, the support from fans was similarly overwhelming – and overwhelmingly positive. Even Rogers was taken aback.

source:

Colleague Brian Straus from The Sporting News, also wrote of the stunning stream of  support. He eloquently nailed the U.S. soccer fan dynamic here that creates a more accepting collective.

Thanks to American soccer’s unique demographics, there likely is no sports league in this part of the world more prepared to accept an active gay player than MLS. Soccer remains somewhat counter culture in the U.S. and Canada. MLS fans often are young and urban. Many of the league’s players are well traveled or well educated. The “New America” that so many pundits discussed during last fall’s presidential election—diverse in some ways, cosmopolitan in others—is far more likely to embrace soccer than the old.

We all deserve to be the best that we can be. No one should be relegated to the outer markers, circling the airport, afraid to land at the fullest version of themselves.

American soccer at large took the opportunity to remind Rogers of that, and tell him that we’re all good here.

Latest Posts
  1. MLS roundup: 20 goals in 4 games Saturday night — WATCH THEM ALL!

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:44 AM EDT

    Tyler Deric, Houston Dynamo Tyler Deric, Houston Dynamo

    It was a bad night to be a goalkeeper. A really, really bad night.

  2. MLS Snapshot: Vancouver Whitecaps 1-2 D.C. United

    Apr 26, 2015, 12:36 AM EDT

    Michael Farfan, D.C. United & Octavio Rivero, Vancouver Whitecaps Michael Farfan, D.C. United & Octavio Rivero, Vancouver Whitecaps

    Winning on the road in MLS is always impressive. Doing it 3,000 miles from home and with a five-man bench is downright remarkable.

  3. MLS Snapshot: Houston Dynamo 4-4 Sporting Kansas City

    Apr 25, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT

    Jalil Anibaba, Sporting Kansas City Jalil Anibaba, Sporting Kansas City

    MLS Game of the Year? Probably. It had a little bit of everything, including some amazing goals you HAVE to see.

  4. MLS Snapshot: New England Revolution 4-0 Real Salt Lake

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:42 PM EDT

    Juan Agudelo, New England Revolution Juan Agudelo, New England Revolution

    Good luck stopping the Revs, now that they’ve got a head of steam behind them. Another Cup run looks likely.

  5. MLS Snapshot: Columbus Crew SC 4-1 Philadelphia Union

    Apr 25, 2015, 9:33 PM EDT

    Ethan Finlay, Columbus Crew SC Ethan Finlay, Columbus Crew SC

    Crew SC’s four-headed attacking monster completely shredded the Union’s defense. The Black and Gold are very for real.

  6. La Liga & Serie A roundup: Barcelona keep pressure on Real Madrid; Inter Milan top Roma

    Apr 25, 2015, 7:44 PM EDT

    Lionel Messi & Neymar, FC Barcelona Getty Images

    As long as Barcelona keep winning, the La Liga title is theirs. The way they’re going at the moment, they might just win out.

  7. WATCH: The 2 Robbies discuss which Premier League teams will be relegated

    Apr 25, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT

    Robbie Earle & Robbie Mustoe, The 2 Robbies Robbie Earle & Robbie Mustoe, The 2 Robbies

    With four teams separated by two points for the final relegation place, it’s becoming an absolute dogfight. The 2 Robbies break it down.

  8. Pearson: “It doesn’t matter how you win games,” as Leicester inch closer to safety

    Apr 25, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    Nigel Pearson, Leicester City FC Nigel Pearson, Leicester City FC

    When in a relegation dogfight, win any way you can. That’s the message from Nigel Pearson, and that’s what Leicester City have done.

  9. Pellegrini: Victory over Aston Villa “one of our worst games of the season”

    Apr 25, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Manuel Pellegrini, Manchester City FC Getty Images

    Play poorly and win, or play well and lose? You can’t always have it both ways, which benefitted Man City on Saturday.

  10. Sherwood: Aston Villa “controlled the game” against Manchester City

    Apr 25, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Tim Sherwood, Aston Villa FC Getty Images

    Sherwood’s men were certainly hard done by away to Manchester City. It’s hard not to agree with the Villa boss.

  11. Promotion Watch: Watford officially promoted; disaster for Middlesbrough

    Apr 25, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Fulham v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Getty Images

    With Watford officially promoted, who’s next? (Hint: It won’t be Boro.)

  12. Manchester City 3-2 Aston Villa: Stunning finish sees City hold on after Guzan’s blunder

    Apr 25, 2015, 2:35 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Citizens survive second half Villa comeback to move up to second, cement spot in top four.

  13. Bundesliga wrap: Schweinsteiger strikes late for Bayern, Hamburg earns huge win

    Apr 25, 2015, 2:32 PM EDT

    Germany Soccer Bundesliga AP

    Three of four “bottom five” clubs who played on Saturday picked up a point, including one side scooping up a massive three points to leap off the bottom of the table.

  14. VIDEO: Watch Lionel Messi score 50th goal of season, 401st for Barcelona

    Apr 25, 2015, 2:01 PM EDT

    RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga Getty Images

    Messi now has at least 50 goals in four seasons during his career.

  15. Watch Watford’s team bus learn they’ve been promoted to the Premier League (video)

    Apr 25, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    cD05ODdlNmNhY2MwMjRlZWQzNTJhM2ViYTQ1Y2VlY2YzOCZnPTUwYWUwMzI2NGZiNGMxMjhmOGYwY2I2NmVmY2Q0MmJm Getty Images

    Mexico national teamer Miguel Layun posted this video on Twitter, as the club learns its been promoted and the bus goes absolutely bonkers.

  16. VIDEO: Guzan’s colossal error gifts Aguero and Man City an easy 1-0 lead

    Apr 25, 2015, 1:18 PM EDT

    Stoke City v Aston Villa - Premier League Getty Images

    Aguero? He doesn’t miss from there, and the USMNT keeper was left with his head in his hands. It’s 1-0 City at half.

  17. Newcastle United 2-3 Swansea City: Swans roll, Magpies haven’t won since February

    Apr 25, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Swans found goals from Nelson Olivera, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jack Cork to build a 3-1 lead before Siem de Jong netted late.

  18. Back in the big time: Watford promoted to the Premier League

    Apr 25, 2015, 12:46 PM EDT

    Brighton & Hove Albion v Watford - Sky Bet Championship Getty Images

    The Hornets are back in the PL for just the third time in their history.

Featured video

Should Chelsea be more entertaining?