Earlier this week, Chip Sarafin, in a magazine interview, became the first active player at the FBS level to be openly gay.
For the first time since his sexuality became public knowledge Wednesday, Sarafin addressed his decision to come out with beat writers during the Sun Devils’ annual practice sessions at Camp Tontozona.
“It’s quite the relief,” Sarafin said. “At first, I didn’t think it was going to blow up as much as it did, so it was very interesting in that regard. A lot of people out there are very positive about it. I’m glad it’s giving Arizona State some good, positive media attention.”
The fact that Sarafin is gay was known to his teammates for well over a year. While the lineman never addressed the entire team as a whole, he told them individually as well as small groups, eventually telling the coaching staff as well. “To be real honest with you, (this is) not an issue,” head coach Todd Graham said.
It was, though, a big — and important — issue to a lot of people all across the country.
Sarafin said he’s heard former Missouri All-SEC defensive end Michael Sam (HERE) and ex-NBA player Jason Collins (HERE) — professional athletes who have come out — have offered him words of encouragement via Twitter, although he’s yet to actually read them as Internet usage is forbidden during the Tontozona phase of camp. Despite the historic nature of his revelation, the walk-on lineman, who’s a 4.0 student who’s already earned a degree in engineering, was taken aback at the amount of attention his coming out has garnered.
“It (coming out) was something I initially intended to do, but I didn’t intend for it to blow out of proportion like it did,” he said. “I originally did it to get some of the stuff I was working on out into the world, bring attention to some of the issues I thought were important. Obviously, it got to the magnitude that it did and I support this.”
In the end, Sarafin’s hopes align with the hopes of myriad people: that, in the not-too-distant future, stories like this one aren’t stories at all.
“I’m hoping that stuff like this won’t be such a big news story, that people will hear stories like this and it won’t be such a big thing,” Sarafin said. “Eventually, players will be who they are and it’s just that, but right now there still needs to be role models for those types of players.”
(Photo credit: Arizona State athletics)