By MARTHA IRVINE, Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Over the past week, some have called NBA player Jason Collins a role model for being the first man in a major U.S. professional sport to come out as gay.
In some ways, young athletes and their supporters have helped pave the way for pros like Collins.
Ellen Staurowsky, professor of sport management at Drexel University, says the movement has been going on quietly for decades.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith says he and others began to notice a momentum shift on college campuses by the mid-1990s. More young athletes were feeling empowered to be open about their sexuality, and the trend has only grown.
Several campuses — including Princeton, the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley — now have groups for gay and lesbian athletes.
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