North Dakota Announcer Suspended

BY LORI RAUDIO

The University of North Dakota’s overtime loss to Northern Arizona was no doubt upsetting to players and fans alike. Play-by-play radio announcer Paul Ralston, however, was apparently very upset by the game.

In an interview with North Dakota’s coach, Brian Jones, after the game, Ralston referred to the loss as a “choke job.” This phrase clearly upset North Dakota’s Athletic Department, which suspended Ralston for two games. The incident was featured on almost every major news outlet including ESPN, CBS, and Yahoo Sports.

To many people, it may not seem like a big deal. After all, we have heard much worse. I think one of the main factors in the decision to suspend Ralston was because his comment was made directly to the coach. Jones, however, did not seem fazed by it. He talked about how his team let the game slip away.

Many bloggers and Twitter users have commented that the suspension seems a bit excessive. While I tend to agree, I also respect North Dakota’s decision. Ralston blatantly disrespected Jones, a fellow employee of the school, to his face. While it is Ralston’s job to report honestly about the game, he definitely crossed a line.

In the wake of the Brent Musburger incident, it is evident announcers are being watched closer than ever. It raises the question of how much freedom of speech announcers have. There seems to be a struggle for some announcers to report the game fairly and keep the audience entertained without offending someone. All the media incidents as of late will only increase scrutiny on announcers’ commentaries.

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About The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project

The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project is a hub for teaching, research, and service related to sport media. The Project benefits students and faculty at Bowling Green State University, and offers outreach and media consulting to area and regional groups that work with student-athletes. Through collaborative efforts of the Sport Management program and the School of Media and Communication, BGSU students have the opportunity to learn such skills as sports writing, reporting, broadcasting, announcing, public relations, media relations, communication management and production. Faculty and other scholars have access to resources about the commercial and sociological aspects of sport.

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