Arizona State offensive lineman Edward "Chip" Sarafin became the first publicly gay football player in the FBS when he acknowledged his sexuality in an interview with Joshua Wyrick of Compete Magazine, a publication designed to highlight the exploits of gay athletes.
"It was really personal to me, and benefitted my peace of mind greatly," Sarafin, who came out to teammates last spring, told Wyrick.
The piece does not delve into many specifics about how he told teammates or about their reaction. Wyrick instead focuses on Sarafin's goals in the medical field and his work with the Pat Tillman Foundation.
"It's so important that we teach them this acceptance when they are young so when they actually experience and meet these different kind of people in real life—and they will—they are adequately prepared," Sarafin said.
A fifth-year senior, Sarafin has spent most of his career at Arizona State working on the scout team. He is yet to enter a game as an offensive lineman, largely providing depth at the center position and working occasionally on special teams. Listed at 6'6" and 320 pounds, he is one of the most physically imposing offensive linemen in the Pac-12.
Football head coach Todd Graham shared his reaction to Sarafin's announcement, via Pac-12 Networks on Twitter:
Sarafin is the first active college football player at the NCAA's highest level to come out as gay. Conner Mertens, a kicker at Division III Willamette University, came out as bisexual in January. Mitch Eby, a defensive end from Division III Chapman University, publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation in May.
Of course, these announcements come as part of a larger movement toward accepting non-traditional sexual orientations in sports. NBA free-agent center Jason Collins, who played last season with the Brooklyn Nets, broke the barrier as the first publicly gay athlete in any of the United States' four major sports. St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam became the first openly gay player in NFL history.
Sam posted this message to Sarafin on Twitter:
Sam and Collins have been publicly lauded for their bravery and trail blazing as the faces of the movement. Sam was recently given the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2014 ESPYs.
Sarafin, who like Sam told his teammates long before the public, is also an accomplished student. He graduated from Arizona State with a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering and is currently working on his master's. Wyrick's article notes that Sarafin is working on a football helmet designed to more safely withstand hits.
Arizona State and Sarafin are expected to issue a joint statement this week, per Scott Gleeson of USA Today.
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