Out of Bounds: A Matter of Pride

How does this happen? How can a symbol of pride for ASU be painted over on three separate occasions by opposing team’s fans? This was exactly the case this past football season when the yellow “A” that sits on A Mountain was painted in the opposing team’s colors prior to a game on three separate occasions. The “A” was painted green prior to the Oregon game, red prior to the U of A game, and finally gold and blue with, “Go Navy” written across the A crossbar prior to the Sun Devils matchup with the Midshipmen in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

I was under the impression that the Student Alumni Association (SAA) was in charge of guarding the “A” at all times.

“The only time SAA provides round-the-clock coverage to guard the A is during Beat U of A week in the fall semester. While the 'A' itself is property of ASU, it sits atop a park with a historic distinction (Hayden Butte Preserve Park) run by the city of Tempe,” said SAA spokesperson Tracy Scott. “The SAA must obtain permits to be in the park and work on the ‘A.’ This same law applies to all who would be up there legally — the city of Tempe requires a permit. Those three instances (the three paintings this year) … are in violation of city of Tempe laws and also in violation of the regulations outlined on the city's website about parks.”

ASU students rallied together early in the morning each time the “A” was painted, bought paint, and hiked up “A” Mountain to repaint

The “A” on A mountain painted in Oregon, U of A, and Navy colors this past football season. Photos courtesy of KPHO and ABC15 The “A” on A mountain painted in Oregon, U of A and Navy colors this past football season. Photos courtesy of KPHO and ABC15

the “A” in its correct color. However it was not quick enough as news helicopters captured images of the A in opponent’s colors each time it was painted by Duck, Wildcat, and Midshipmen fans. This resulted in a quick news report and during the game itself the announcers usually went out of their way to mention the prank during a timeout or dead airtime as a funny aside.

It may be amusing to some, but not many within the ASU community. The motto of the SAA is, “We are ASU’s spirit, tradition, and pride keepers.” The mission statement is, “To maintain and develop spirit while acquiring an appreciation for traditions, thereby fostering pride in and for Arizona State University.” The spirit may have been kept up, but tradition and pride were certainly damaged every time the “A” was seen in another color. When ASU can’t take care of its most treasured possession, what kind of message does that send to those outside of ASU: future Sun Devils, alumni, and opponents? The “A” is a symbol for ASU; when it’s degraded and goes uncared for it shows not only a lack of responsibility but a lack of pride within the ASU community.

There are many other campus landmarks throughout the country, but none take nearly as much of a beating as the “A."

Take the USC vs. UCLA rivalry for example. The last time Tommy Trojan or the bear statue on UCLA’s campus took on a fresh coat of USC red and yellow or Bruin blue and gold was 2009. Now each statue gets covered in duck tape and encased in a large wooden box during rivalry week. Yes, the “A” is high up on a butte but that shouldn’t be any kind of excuse.

What if the “Play Like a Champion Today” sign in the locker room at Notre Dame somehow got vandalized? There would be such an uproar that the Irish wouldn’t know what to do with themselves and the hunt for the perpetrators would rival that of a mass murderer. OK, maybe I’m taking it a little too far but you get the point.

When walking through the campus in Tempe, looking up and seeing a yellow “A” has a calming effect that everything is right with the university.

If students can’t guard it well enough, what can be done? Set up surveillance cameras, trip wires, motion detectors, something to deter this from happening again. Because the SAA is right; the pride, tradition and spirit of ASU is too important and allowing this to occur on a yearly basis is a darn shame.


If you have any suggestions as to what you would like to see me write about or cover this semester, have a comment about a recent post or simply want to talk sports, contact me at nkruege1@asu.edu or on Twitter @npkrueger

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