Robbie Rogers, left, in his MLS days. - George Frey
The reaction to the coming out for former Major League Soccer player Robbie Rogers has been all positive. Further evidence of this happened when Sports Illustrated soccer writer Grant Wahl did a survey of 18 players on a variety of league issues. He granted the players anonymity in return for them being open and one question dealt with having an openly gay teammate.
Would a gay player be accepted in your team's locker room?
Yes (17 votes)
No (one vote)
My Take: I happen to think MLS is as ready as any other U.S. men's professional league to have an openly gay player, and this vote supports that notion, as does the positive response to Robbie Rogers' recent announcement that he's gay. As one player said to me, "There are probably a couple in there right now, so yeah." But how much does that one "No" vote give closeted players pause?
I would hope that the one "no" vote would not be given any additional weight other than one vote by a player. The league hierarchy has been positive to such a player, as have coaches and other players. And the minority who would feel uncomfortable would be outvoted by the majority. I loved these comments by Brad Evans of the Seattle Sounders, when asked by the Sounder at Heart blog about Wahl's survey:
"What I would say to them is everybody has their own way of doing things. Regardless of if they think it's going to be a good reception or a bad reception, ultimately, it's up to them and how they perceive it. What we can do is provide that comfortable atmosphere in the locker room where they don't feel ousted. In the locker room, in the training room, wherever it is, you have to make everybody feel comfortable.
"For me, I could give two shits. I don't care. I'm open to everybody. We have a lot of fun in the locker room, and I know that this is a great group of guys.
"It is what it is; it's not like somebody's in the locker room and they're trying to hit on you. This is a job. This is a profession. This is what they do for a living, most importantly."
"I could give two shits" should be the default reaction of everyone in sports to a player's sexual orientation.