The way in which Jason Collins re-entered the NBA as its first openly gay player illustrates the importance of sexual orientation in team sports:
It wasn't, "Let me play even though I'm gay."
It was, "I'm gay and I can play."
Nearing the end of his career, no NBA teams picked him up after his "I'm gay" announcement.
Then, mid-season the Brooklyn Nets had a vacancy in their roster. They looked around, and found that the very best person in the world available to fill that vacancy was Jason Collins.
So they signed him.
Because they needed him.
By the way, there's still a glaring vacancy in pro sports: who will be the first white player to come out?
It's like, Do black folk have to do everything???