When he ran onto the field to make his debut Sunday night as a member of Major League Soccer’s L.A. Galaxy, openly gay Robbie Rogers received a loud ovation from 24,811 Southern California fans at the Home Depot Center. Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan called Rogers’ decision to come out of retirement and return to soccer—thereby becoming the first active openly gay male athlete to compete in an American professional sport—a “big step in the right direction” for society. But it’s a society that is increasingly becoming less and less concerned about sexual morality as defined by the Bible.
“I think we’re all proud to be a part of it,” Donovan said. “When all is said and done, we’ll probably look back and say that’s crazy that we even cared about that at the time, that it’s not a big deal.”
“I’m sure that there are a lot of players over the years that have played in England or wherever [who were gay] but are too frightened to come out,” said Galaxy captain Robbie Keane, who played in Europe for 14 years. “I think it’s maybe easier to cope with it in America than England, where they’re maybe a little bit behind over there, in regards of the situation.”
To help make the sport more accommodating to homosexuals, Major League Soccer has begun to deal sternly with players caught uttering gay slurs against other players. On Tuesday, MLS suspended San Jose forward Alan Gordon for three days after he called a player what’s considered to be a disparaging gay term during a match against the Portland Timbers. As part of his punishment, Gordon must also attend diversity and sensitivity training and pay a fine.
While Donovan compared Rogers’ situation to Jackie Robinson breaking major league baseball’s color barrier in 1947, so far Rogers has not faced public opposition like Robinson did. Neither has NBA player Jason Collins since his post-season revelation that he was gay in late April, with the lone exception of ESPN’s Chris Broussard, who noted that homosexuality was a sin according to the Bible. ESPN quickly apologized for Broussard’s comments, while several media analysts labeled the Christian reporter a “bigot.”