bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Basketball announcer fired for speaking the truth

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As I sit here watching the Oscars pre-show, I am struck by the odd nature of entertainment. We spend an awful lot of time and money to be entertained, and it becomes such a focus of our daily existence that we are also willing to watch the stars of that entertainment pat themselves on the back for hours on end. Sports, of course, is really just entertainment in many ways, and for some of us, it is our primary escape. The biggest difference between movies and sports is that a lot of people (myself certainly included) often take sports a lot more seriously, to the point that a loss can not only affect our moods for an extended period of time, but can also lead us to anger over very silly and insignificant things. Early this week, the announcer for the University of North Dakota’s basketball team was suspended for two games for using the phrase “choke job” to describe the team’s loss to Northern Arizona last Saturday.

What exactly is the role of the announcer? As a fan, I want an announcer to tell me what is happening in the game, and I also want to hear analysis and breakdown of individual performances. I am fine with opinions being thrown in, as it would be difficult for someone to avoid opinions entirely when spending hours on a broadcast. What I am not okay with is listening to someone that is such a homer that he refuses to say anything remotely negative about the team that employs him. Paul Ralston, the North Dakota announcer, was speaking the truth when he used the words that got him suspended. The team, which amazingly does not have a nickname at the current moment, having been forced to give up the name “Fighting Sioux” by the NCAA, had blown a lead in the final minute of the game, missing a number of free throws in the process, allowing Northern Arizona to tie the game and then go on to win in overtime. Sounds like a choke job to me.

I can see an objection to a personal attack on a player, coach, or administrator causing a problem. I would understand the reaction if he had used profanity or had demeaned the school itself in some way. The idea that he deserved to be removed from his job for a few days because he accurately described a horrid performance by the team is offensive to me. The administrators involved in the decision should be ashamed of themselves, and should spend their energy on the coaching staff and the players who can’t sink a free throw when the game is on the line. Let Ralston do his job, which is to tell the fans what’s occurring, and if what is happening is a choke job, let him say so.

Bad sports, continued:

2) What appeared sure to be a fantastic year for Star Lotulelei, a defensive tackle from Utah, may have just turned into something much more difficult. On Sunday, it was announced that the player’s physical at the NFL Scouting Combine showed a heart problem involving a poorly functioning left ventricle of his heart. He was considered a lock to be taken in the first five overall picks in April’s draft, but that is certainly in question now.

3) Da’Quan Bowers, a defensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was arrested on Monday for taking a gun into LaGuardia Airport. That’s some serious stupid right there.

4) Josh Level, a high school basketball player from North Carolina who was being recruited by some big-time college programs, collapsed during a game on Tuesday night and later died at a hospital in Winston-Salem.

5) Nearly thirty fans were injured at the NASCAR Nationwide race at Daytona on Saturday when yet another ridiculous, restrictor-plate-influenced giant wreck occurred at the end of the race. Kyle Larson’s car flew into the catch fence and tore a section of it to shreds, causing a tire to fly into the stands along with a bunch of shrapnel.

6) Three students from a North Dakota high school put on Ku Klux Klan hoods while sitting in the stands during their school’s basketball game against a rival team on Friday. A picture of the scene was posted on Twitter, which is how it made big news. This is certainly the first time my column has ever contained two different stories involving basketball in North Dakota.

7) It seems that February was not a good month to be a member of the Pistorius family. As if the recent murder charges levied against Olympic runner Oscar weren’t enough, his brother Carl was also charged with murder this week for an incident in 2008 that resulted in the death of a woman whose motorcycle collied with a possibly drunk Pistorius’ car.

8) Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson will miss the early part of his team’s season after his arm was broken when he was hit by a pitch during a spring training game on Sunday.

Good sports:

1) Danica Patrick accomplished a whole bunch of firsts during Sunday’s Daytona 500. She became the first woman to ever start on the pole of a Sprint Cup race, the first to ever lead a lap under a green flag, and the first to ever finish in the top ten of the Daytona 500. She finished 8th.

2) Along the same lines, Christmas Abbott accomplished a major NASCAR first of her own this week when she became the first woman to work on a pit crew in one of NASCAR’s top three series. She is a tire changer for Jennifer Jo Cobb’s truck in the Camping World Truck series.

3) Hockey’s Chicago Blackhawks set a record on Friday when they beat the San Jose Sharks to move to 15-0-2, becoming the first NHL team to ever start a season without a loss in its first seventeen games. They followed it up with a win on Sunday as well.

4) Fauja Singh, the centenarian marathoner about whom I wrote previously, retired on Sunday after running his final race, a 10K competition in Hong Kong. He is 101 and plans to continue running recreationally.

5) Hitting a half-court shot is hard. Hitting a half-court shot during a forward flip is just ridiculous. Check out the video of a cheerleader in Mississippi doing just that.

Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday


Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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2 Responses to “Bad sports, good sports: Basketball announcer fired for speaking the truth”

  1. (sigh)

    I miss the days when I could make forward-flip, half-court shots like that.


  2. Jeff – please post video of you making the attempt as soon as possible.

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