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NCAA Basketball

North Dakota Men’s Basketball’s Play-By-Play Announcer Was Suspended For Calling Team Loss A Choke Job


The University of North Dakota men’s basketball team (11-14, 8-8 Big Sky) lost 74-72 in overtime to the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Saturday afternoon. UND led in the final minute of regulation, but missed five free throws in the final four minutes of regulation, allowing the Lumberjacks to force OT and win.

You or I might call that a choke job, and rightly so. It was. But you and I do not also call games for North Dakota. Paul Ralston does, and he too called this game a choke job, to the face of UND head coach Brian Jones in a post-game interview. The punishment for such an offense was a two-game suspension for Ralston, who sits out tonight’s game against Northern Colorado and Saturday’s game against Nebraska-Omaha (because apparently, not every team in the Big Sky is Northern).

Sometimes broadcasters cross the line. This isn’t one of those times. It’s not unlike the time people vilified Brent Musburger for calling two women pretty (in his own way, of course), when all he was doing was calling two women pretty. Except this time, this is a small-conference college basketball play-by-play announcer, calling a regular-season game. I suppose they play by different rules in Big Sky country, but wasn’t Ralston just telling it like it is?

If you’re looking for just cause, perhaps look no further than the Urban Dictionary definition of choke job, which is exactly what you think it is. I don’t think this is what the UND athletic director had in mind when he suspended Ralston, but hey, it could have been. In that case, more announcers should start using the term so we can keep revisiting its Urban Dictionary definition.

[ESPN, photo via]



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