Former Columbus Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers, a U.S. international, announced on his blog today that he is gay and that he is stepping away from soccer for the time being. The 25 year old most recently played in England for Leeds United and Stevenage, but his contract was recently canceled and there were questions about where he would play next. Most signs had it that he would be returning to MLS, where the Chicago Fire just traded for his MLS rights, but Rogers publicly tweeted both his presumable critique of players' labor rights in MLS, as well as the fact that he apparently took a job working for a magazine in London earlier this week. Now, with his announcement that he's stepping away from soccer, that move doesn't look quite as odd.
SB Nation Columbus Crew blog Massive Report had an article on Rogers' announcements earlier today, and there was a passage that I found particularly striking:
Rogers simultaneously tantalized and frustrated soccer fans for years. He had the obvious talent to be a very good player, but he was maddeningly inconsistent. He was an MLS First XI pick in 2008 and landed on the U.S. National Team radar.
From 2009-2011, his form slipped. He looked lost on the field and appeared to lose a step. He broadened his focus beyond the soccer field, starting a clothing line and modeled a bit. It just looked like he wasn't having any fun on the field and didn't have that same fire.
For my part, I support Rogers in doing what he wants to do, and figuring out if he wants to return to soccer or not. Obviously, the decision to reveal his sexuality was not easy, and I hope he gets all the support in the world. I hope you support him as well.
The quote from Massive Report's article gave me pause because it puts into perspective what goes into a player's performance. I strive to be honest in what I write, including what I write about Chivas USA on this site. If I like a player's performance, I express that, and if I don't like how a player is doing on the field, I express that as well. But the fact that Rogers' career seemed to become more and more unproductive as it went on reminds me of the old cliche: athletes are just people, like us. They have highs and lows, and their lives off the field can impact their performances on the field.
I will still continue to be honest, but I also want to keep perspective that other factors can influence performance. Hopefully Rogers' story inspires other people who may be struggling with their identities to have the courage to make a leap, whatever that might be. All I can say is congratulations on taking a step today, Robbie, and best of luck in whatever you decide to do from here.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!