Review: “Coming Out to Play” by Robbie Rogers


“Coming Out to Play” was written by Robbie Rogers with the help of Eric Marcus.

More than anything else, Robbie Roger’s story in “Coming Out to Play” conveys the personal anguish of his internal decisions. The choices he made regarding threats, rational or perceived, are the basis of this compelling story.

Robbie Rogers is a soccer player of international acclaim. Rogers played for the United States at the Olympics, in the English Champion’s League, and has won the Major League Soccer championship twice. He’s 27, and, to quote Anderson Cooper, “Rogers has inspired millions.”

Rogers demonstrated his soccer prowess at an early age, but it would take years for the self-acceptance he needed to tell the world he was gay to materialize. The fact that Rogers is a gay, professional sports-person is the integral part of the book by Rogers.

“Coming Out to Play” is an intimate book–blending Rogers’ family history and growing up in Southern California, his soccer successes, and coming to terms with who he is as a gay man.

Rogers started soccer at age four, and also competed in Judo. It was soon evident after he started both of these sports that he had skill. Rogers is known for being an incredibly agile player. Eventually, years of training led Rogers to the intense world of professional soccer.

Rogers never thought he would be able to continue playing soccer and be himself–an openly gay man. The major achievement this book does incredibly well is to illustrate how hard it was for Rogers to love himself–and to accept himself. The world he knew told him that as a gay player, as someone different, he deserved less than his peers.

The weight of keeping his sexuality secret, even from his family and friends, ate at him over time. When he was living on his own in London at the age of 25, playing for Leeds United and Stevenage, Rogers started to crack. He was done telling lies.

“I was going to suffocate if I didn’t find a way out,” he said.

The actual writing of the book is in a simple, first person narrative. While going into detail to explain soccer and Rogers’ thought processes, “Coming Out to Play” does not get bogged down in extra descriptions. In some way, this detracts from making the story a clearer picture, but the book is definitely more easily and quickly read this way.

Everyone should read this book. You don’t have to be a soccer fan, or gay, to read this. Rogers’ story has important lessons for everyone. A key theme of Rogers’ book is not just being gay, but being yourself and being honest to those you love. Self-acceptance is a lesson that is applicable to everyone, and this book is relevant to all because of that.