But, culturally, it matters that Collins is an active player and that he is a man. How will the locker room react? How will fans react? What about endorsements?

Collins’s announcement challenges comfortable but homophobic notions about athletic heroes, said Dan Lebowitz, director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University. He calls the revelation a civil rights watershed moment.

“The sports world is typified by this hyper­masculine definition of manhood that hadn’t allowed for these conversations of an athlete of a different sexual orientation,” Lebowitz said. “I think it creates a positive self-image for every gay kid who is an athlete or every gay kid who isn’t an athlete. They can find people who are like them.

“There should be a lot of room for a grand definition of what manhood is. It can be a million things, including being a gay athlete.”