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Gays in sports #4 in AP's top stories of the year

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Michael Sam and Jason Collins made the issue a centerpiece in the sports world.

Michael Sam
Michael Sam
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

February was a month where gays in pro sports stole the headlines, from Jason Collins playing in an NBA game to Michael Sam coming out publicly prior to the draft. These two events helped propel the issue of gays in sports to No. 4 on the list of the top sports stories of 2014, as voted on by the nation's sports editors.

FIRSTS FOR GAY ATHLETES: Jason Collins became the first openly gay man to play in the big four North American pro sports leagues when he made his debut with the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 23. The veteran center had come out 10 months earlier, a trailblazing moment that helped inspire other athletes and sports officials to follow his lead in 2014. That included Missouri All-American Michael Sam, who went on to be drafted into the NFL, though he has yet to play in a game.

NFL domestic violence, highlighted by Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee in an elevator, was voted the top story, followed by the NBA banning Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racial comments and LeBron James signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

I have no problem with the top two stories, but gays in sports was more significant than LeBron playing for a team he already has played for. Had Sam played in the NFL this season, one could argue the ranking would even be higher. What both Collins and Sam did was put real people behind what had been an abstract issue and that has changed the public dialog.

Here are the Top 10 stories. Since these are voted on by American sports editors, it is very U.S.-biased:

1. NFL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
2. CLIPPERS' STERLING BANNED
3. LEBRON GOES HOME
4. FIRSTS FOR GAY ATHLETES
5. GIANTS WIN WORLD SERIES
6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PAYS OFF
7. TONY STEWART
8. WORLD CUP
9. SEAHAWKS WIN SUPER BOWL
10. SOCHI OLYMPICS