Christine Brennan
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Jason Collins: 'Next to Jackie Robinson'

US basketball player Jason Collins has come out as gay, the first active male athlete in a major American professional team sport to do so.

"I've endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie," Collins wrote in an article for Sports Illustrated. "I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew."

USA Today sport columnist Christine Brennan says Collins's essay shows how much professional gay athletes fear the potential consequences of coming out - whether it be ostracism in the locker room or financial punishment from sponsors.

"We will see his name in history next to Jackie Robinson and Billie Jean King," Brennan says. "It's getting its due because it is such an important - not just a sports history moment - but an American history moment."