(This story was published in 2006).
For the last year, we have not been able to say that America has never had an active openly gay professional athlete in a team sport. Andrew Goldstein, who came out of the closet a year ago as a senior goaltender for Dartmouth, is playing for the Long Island Lizards of Major League Lacrosse. Goldstein was drafted by the Boston Cannons in 2005 and was selected by the Lizards in the 2006 MLL supplemental draft.
While there has been plenty of talk about how hard it would be to be openly gay in a team sport, Goldstein's sexuality has not been an issue with the team.
"It isn't an issue with us," said team spokesperson Scott Neiss. "We're a professional lacrosse team who drafted Andrew for his skills in the cage. His teammates are all professional about it, and he is treated like any other player by us."
Neiss also said the team has had no complaints from any of its fans or players regarding Goldstein's sexuality.
At the Lizards' June 17 home game against the Philadelphia Barrage, fans did not seem to care about Goldstein's sexuality, either. A crowd of over 1,000, consisting mostly of kids and their parents, cheered on the Lizards exuberantly. There were no anti-gay signs. No anti-gay cheers. And two fans, who identified themselves as Adam and Scott (left), both 20, reiterated the sentiments of the team.
"It doesn't matter," Scott said. "He can do whatever he wants after the game. During the game, he's one of the team. And as long as he plays good, I don't care."
Goldstein has played only 3:30 this season, allowing one goal. He did not play in the game against Philadelphia, though maybe he should have.
After the first 17 minutes of the game, the Lizards had built an 8-0 lead. But after that, the Barrage went on a 8-1 run before Long Island's Peter Vlahakis took the face-off unassisted and scored. Long Island was winning, 12-9, with 12 minutes left; but Philadelphia ran off four consecutive points as the Lizards failed to score in the final 14 minutes of the game.
Long Island starting goalie Greg Cattrano at one point allowed three goals in 42 seconds in the third quarter, which eventually proved to be the difference-makers in the game. It's hard to imagine that Goldstein, with the "lightning-quick reflexes" the Lizards tout, couldn't have done better than that.
The win kept Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference at 5-0, the only undefeated team left in MLL. Long Island is last in the Eastern Conference; at 1-4, they will need a major turnaround to make the four-team playoffs in Los Angeles
Goldstein will be pursuing a Ph.D. in molecular biology at UCLA this autumn. MLL's expansion Los Angeles Riptide just might be looking for a new goalie next season.