Pittsfield player: Being spat on ‘traumatic’; School rips athletic association for not addressing racial slurs

Player who was spit on describes ‘traumatic’ experience

Player who was spit on describes 'traumatic' experience

The Pittsfield High School basketball player who was spit on during a state semifinals game called the experience “traumatic” and questioned why the opposing player didn’t face criminal charges.

The district is questioning why the state athletic association didn’t get involved and said racial slurs also were directed at the Pittsfield players and their supporters.

The player, Malachi Perry, wrote a letter on Wednesday and it was posted on one of his teammates Facebook page, which he said the incident ruined a special moment for the team that made it to the state semifinals.

It happened in the third quarter of Monday’s game against Old Rochester at Worcester State University.
Perry made a basket and the Old Rochester player guarding him fell to the floor. He got up and when they were running alongside each other, the opposing player spit in Perry’s face.

Perry, who is Black, said being spit at by the white player “robbed my teammates and myself of not only a once in a lifetime opportunity but of our dignity and safety.”

According to Perry and the school, the referees did not see the incident. No foul was called on the Old Rochester player. Perry pushed the playe , in retaliation and received a technical for the shove. Perry was pulled out of the game to cool off and then checked back in later.

Pittsfield went on to lose the game 82-72 and Perry believes that the incident may have cost the team from a chance to play in the championship game.

“I would like this experience to be chance for everyone to see and feel the injustices we felt as minority players in a predominantly white environment,” Perry wrote. “I feel confident that if I was the one that spit at a white player I would have been removed from the game and likely put in handcuffs.

“All I wanted to do was show up, play hard, and try to win a basketball game and now it has become so much more than that,” he wrote.

The Old Rochester Regional player was kicked off the team, according to the district, which has apologized for the incident.

Perry said he wants his feelings and anger to be validated and wants to make sure others don’t have to experience anything like that again.

He wants the player, coach and school district to be held accountable. He is also questioning why the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association didn’t get involved.

“I want to know why and how the officials ‘didn’t’ see anything’ and why MIAA officials in attendance didn’t step in to defend me when it was clear to most of the arena what had happened? I want to know why bad sportsmanship was rewarded and why a criminal act went unpunished,” he wrote.  

In addition, Perry alleges that fans of Old Rochester were using racist slurs against his teammates and he could feel the hate, which he called “completely and totally unacceptable.”

“MIAA events are supposed to encourage sportsmanship and yet this behavior is allowed? To me, by allowing this behavior you are encouraging it to continue and that is never going to be acceptable.”

District criticizes MIAA

Superintendent Joseph Curtis and Pittsfield High School Principal Maggie Harrington-Esko wrote a letter to MIAA criticizing how they handled this entire incident.

They said that the Old Rochester fans were yelling “Go back where you came from” and “ghetto punk” at Pittsfield fans.

When Perry checked back into the game later after the incident, the Pittsfield administrators said that Old Rochester Regional Players were pulling on his jersey and he was being called the N-word by students in the fan section.

After the game, the Pittsfield coach Jerome Edgerton and players sought assistance in order to be escorted out of the gym given the tense atmosphere. However, MIAA officials refused their request, according to the Pittsfield administrators.

“As a result, when our team and supporters were escorted out of the gym without assistance, they were left vulnerable to further harassment and a subsequent assault, which occurred outside the building by a spectator,” she said.

The coach kept the team in the gym for as long as possible awaiting a police escort. Eventually, a MIAA representative escorted the coach and team into the locker room.

“During this passage, our team had to traverse through the (Old Rochester Regional) parent section, where adults from their teams directed derogatory comments towards the coaches and players,” the letter wrote.

“Pittsfield High School athletes are expressing that moving forward, they are afraid of what it means for a black athlete to compete in the state of Massachusetts.”

There was also an issue after the game in which two Pittsfield staff members, both men of color, were surrounded by police officers and the atmosphere became very “tense” and “unstable.”

The officers remained around those two staff members.

The letter concluded with a plea for the MIAA to uphold its commitment to be a “No Place for Hate” within Massachusetts high school sports.

A representative from MIAA did not return a voicemail message or email from NewsChannel 13 seeking comment.

Old Rochester is playing Charlestown for the MIAA Division 3 state title on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Tsongas Center at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.