Root for the Home Team

ASU's "Superfan" gets called out at the old ball game

"If we've got a fan that's being disruptive and keeping other patrons from enjoying themselves, we have to remove that person," says Mike Chismar, who oversees ASU's stadium security. Chismar refused to talk about Root specifically, citing "security issues" and Root's privacy. "We're following the same rules we always have to ensure an enjoyable experience for all of our patrons."

Chismar says stadium security's actions on March 13 were business as usual. But it's only been since football season last fall that Gene Smith has emphasized that he wants his "C.L.A.S.S." initiative enforced at all sporting events, a sort of mission statement for fans that stands for "Cheer Loudly and Stay Supportive." Smith says it's an initiative he hopes will curb unsportsmanlike conduct on the part of fans both at ASU and around the country.

Smith cites the infamous "Steve Kerr incident" of 1988 -- in which ASU fans taunted the then-UofA basketball guard whose father had been assassinated by terrorists in Beirut, Lebanon, four years earlier, by chanting "PLO! PLO!" and "Where's your dad?" -- as just one example of fan behavior he says has gotten out of control.

Fork 'em: Phil Root cheers on his Sun Devils, at the March 26 baseball game against the Washington Huskies.
Emily Piraino
Fork 'em: Phil Root cheers on his Sun Devils, at the March 26 baseball game against the Washington Huskies.

"We are encouraging cheering, not heckling," Smith tells New Times. "I, personally, do not feel that heckling has any place in sports."

Smith isn't alone. In response to unruly fan behavior at men's basketball games, the Maryland assistant attorney general informed the University of Maryland last month that the school can limit offensive chants, signs and clothing at games while supposedly preserving an individual's First Amendment rights.

While such guidelines likely will be challenged by free-speech advocates, Root says he won't fight Smith if similar policies are put in place at ASU.

"I'm tired of fighting," Root says, as No. 10 smacks a two-run single up the middle of the infield, giving Washington an 8-6 win and dealing ASU its second loss of the three-game series.

"I'll just have to be content saying 'Go Devils!' I guess."

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Mr. Root is seriously the coolest teacher ever!!!!!!!!

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