Meet Robbie Rogers. He is eligible to make his Los Angeles Galaxy debut on Sunday night against the Seattle Sounders. And he is openly gay.
Soon enough, this won't be news—and Rogers will be someone we can thank for that.
It's been a roller-coaster ride for the talented 26-year-old.
In February, just over three months ago, he dropped two bombshells on the sporting world at the same time—he was gay, and he was retiring from the sport of soccer.
Six weeks later, he helped shed light on his decision to The Guardian's Donald McRae:
I wouldn't want to deal with the circus. Are people coming to see you because you're gay? Would I want to do interviews every day, where people are asking: "So you're taking showers with guys – how's that?"
If you're playing well it will be reported as: "The gay footballer is playing well." And if you have a bad game it'll be: "Aw, that gay dude … he's struggling because he's gay." (Expletive) it. I don't want to mess with that.
As Rogers quickly found out, however, it's difficult to walk away from something you truly love, no matter how difficult it might be.
With help from family, peers, Landon Donovan and NBA player Jason Collins, Rogers compiled the courage necessary to eventually return to the sport.
Robbie Rogers is eligible to make his debut for the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night after MLS said it had received his International Transfer Certificate.
The former U.S. national team winger will become the first active openly gay male athlete to compete in an American professional team sport when he makes his debut for the Galaxy.
In the past few months, we have seen some major movement toward complete equality in sports.
In April, women's basketball superstar Brittney Griner revealed she was gay. Just before that, UCLA's Jim Mora became the first major college football coach to encourage gay athletes to play for him when he participated in the "You Can Play" campaign. Days earlier, the NHL launched a measure in support of gay athletes.
There's only so much effect any of those developments can afflict, though.
Rogers, on the other hand, is different. Not only is he the first male player to actually compete in a major American team sport, but he is doing so as one of the more talented players in the game. He has the opportunity to be a visible role model whom kids such as himself didn't have growing up.
The dominoes for complete equality in the sports world are being set up, and Rogers represents the inspirational nudge to set everything in motion.
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