University of North Dakota suspends basketball announcer for saying "choke job"

They apparently take their choke jobs very seriously up at UND.
They apparently take their choke jobs very seriously up at UND.
Image by Tatiana Craine

In 2006, the Twins suspended Bert Blyleven after he said, "We gotta do this thing fuckin' thing over again because I just fucked it up" as he botched a pregame video voiceover he didn't realize was being broadcast live.

SEE ALSO: Jamie Kuntz kicked off NoDak college football team after kissing boyfriend during game

That's one thing. But being suspended for merely saying "choke job" on the air? Up in North Dakota, broadcasters apparently really have to watch what they say.

The University of North Dakota suspended basketball radio announcer Paul Ralston for two games after he had the audacity to characterize the team's 74-72 Saturday night loss to Northern Arizona as a "C word" -- a choke.

From the Awful Announcing blog:

Paul Ralston, the radio voice of North Dakota basketball, has been suspended by the school for two games after calling the team's 74-72 loss to Northern Arizona on Saturday a "choke job" during an interview with coach Brian Jones. The team missed five free throws down the stretch after leading in the final minute, and ended up losing in overtime.

By all accounts, North Dakota did indeed choke the game away. In addition to the missed free throws late in the game, the team turned the ball over 21 times, including twice in the last two minutes of the game...

Ralston is also the director of broadcast properties for the university, so him calling out someone who is essentially a coworker was obviously frowned upon by the school. Still, it's an extraordinary step for a school to suspend their own play by play man and one rarely ever seen. There's some significant questions worth asking in this situation and just how much freedom announcers should have for fear of punishment from their respective schools, but clearly North Dakota felt Ralston crossed a line.

It's hard to believe anybody could legitimately be offended by "choke job." But in light of his suspension, next time Ralston is interviewing UND's coach after his team crumbles down the stretch, apparently he'll have to go with something like, "Coach, your team really played like poo-poo down the stretch tonight. Your thoughts?"

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