Robbie Rogers, a former member of the U.S. men's national soccer team, surprised the sporting world today by announcing that he was gay and that he plans to "step away" from the sport for an unspecified amount of time. The 25-year-old made the announcement in a rather powerful statement on his personal blog that's worth your time. His site seems to be struggling under the weight of all the traffic at the moment, so I'm cutting and pasting the full post, titled "The Next Chapter...", here (elipses his):
Things are never what they seem… My whole life I have felt different, different from my peers, even different from my family. In today’s society being different makes you brave. To overcome your fears you must be strong and have faith in your purpose.
For the past 25 year I have been afraid, afraid to show whom I really was because of fear. Fear that judgment and rejection would hold me back from my dreams and aspirations. Fear that my loved ones would be farthest from me if they knew my secret. Fear that my secret would get in the way of my dreams.
Dreams of going to a World Cup, dreams of The Olympics, dreams of making my family proud. What would life be without these dreams? Could I live a life without them?
Life is only complete when your loved ones know you. When they know your true feelings, when they know who and how you love. Life is simple when your secret is gone. Gone is the pain that lurks in the stomach at work, the pain from avoiding questions, and at last the pain from hiding such a deep secret.
Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently.
I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will always be thankful for my career. I will remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret.
Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football. It’s 1 A.M. in London as I write this and I could not be happier with my decision. Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.
Rogers was by no means a soccer superstar or a household name, but his resume was still impressive: He earned 18 caps playing for the men's national squad (most recently in 2011), starred for the MLS's Columbus Crew and earned a roster spot over in England, where he played sparingly before parting ways with Leeds United earlier this year. The most likely next stop for him was a return to the MLS. Given his talent level and relatively young age, if he opts to return to the sport in the near- to mid-future, it's likely he'd find an employer.
The best tweet of encouragement goes to Eddie Pope, another former USMNT player who retired back in 2006, before Rogers made the men's squad:
Update: An early version of this post accidently cut off a portion of Rogers' statement. The full thing should be there now.