Robbie Rogers debuts for LA Galaxy, becomes first openly gay male in U.S. professional team sports

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Normally one team scoring four times before halftime kills a game’s drama. On Sunday, it didn’t matter.

It’s not that we didn’t care about the result. We did, a little. But when the LA Galaxy went into half time up 4-0, Seattle’s disastrous half allowed us to focus on the bigger picture.

It was only a matter of time until Robbie Rogers came on.

The former Columbus Crew winger was officially signed by Los Angeles on Saturday. When his International Transfer Certificate arrived on Sunday, we knew what would happen. With a national television audience set to tune in, Rogers would surely see time.

Sean Franklin’s opener followed by Robbie Keane’s first half hat trick left eyeing the clock. Would he come on at half-time, with the game well decided? Maybe as the first sub? Perhaps there was a specific minute Bruce Arena had in mind? Or maybe it wouldn’t happen at all.

In the 77th minute, with LA’s second sub, it finally came. To the applause of Home Depot Center’s 24,811 in attendance, Rogers became Major League Soccer’s first openly gay player. He’s also the first homosexual male to take part in U.S. professional team sport.

(MORE: The dramatically short arc of the Robbie Rogers story)

In terms of impact on the result, his time on the field was meaningless. The game was decided, and with the other 21 players undoubtedly aware of the occasion, the game faded into insignificance.

But in terms of the larger impact, Rogers’ time on the field couldn’t have been more meaningful. His appearance not only broke through barrier, blowing up one of sports’ former taboos, it did so with the full support of the over 24,000 in Carson as well as hundreds of thousands tuning in from home.

On an individual level, this was a landmark night of Rogers. But collectively, it was a great night for Major League Soccer, the larger gay community, and as more leagues embrace players like Rogers, the greater American sports landscape.

Here’s Rogers’ moment: