Coach Williams opportunity missed

After his all-black basketball team was eliminated from the playoffs, South High Coach Williams accused two referees of racial or class bias. Many denounced him as a race-baiting sore loser, but a number of coaches, teachers, players, parents, and even another referee supported his allegations and demanded a full review. Many saw this as an opportunity for Worcester to grow in racial sensitivity.

Unfortunately, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association decided to suspend Williams for four games and require that he attend anger management classes. The Telegram & Gazette front page story on the decision noted that in 1992 the MIAA gave a milder penalty to a coach who grabbed a referee. When the coach of St. John’s grabbed a referee, spinning him around, during a game in 2004, no penalty at all was imposed.

To all those aware of racism’s deep roots in our society, Williams’s punishment represents not only a failure to consider his serious charges, but also a warning to others not to raise the issue again.

Immediately below the Williams story, the T&G featured a report that the History Channel has chosen our region to stand in for the Old South in an upcoming film. Was this a coincidence or commentary on the MIAA?

Coach Williams suspended

On today’s front page of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, there’s a front-page article headlined above the fold: “Central Mass. to become Old South for TV movie.”

Above that is another article: “Boy’s basketball coach suspended: South High’s Williams alleged racist referees.” From Jackie Reis’s article:

South High Community School boys’ varsity basketball coach Patrick Williams has been suspended for two weeks or four games, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association announced yesterday.

The penalty comes after Mr. Williams alleged that two of three referees at a Division 1 semifinals game March 5 were racist and caused his team to lose to Holy Name Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School in double overtime. Mr. Williams apologized to the MIAA five days later for “bringing racism into the conversation” and for violating MIAA rule 50.1.1, which prohibits coaches from publicly criticizing game officials.


The MIAA suspended former Burncoat High School boys’ basketball coach Jim Diamantopoulos for one year for allegedly grabbing a referee in 1992. That suspension, however, was reduced to eight days upon appeal after the MIAA sportsmanship committee determined there was “no physical assault” by Mr. Diamantopoulos, who missed just one game.

The ruling doesn’t appear on the MIAA website. No idea if Mr. Williams was additionally reprimanded for being “uppity.”

Coach Pat Williams and the School Committee

This is the real deal.

If you want to support calls for an independent review of accusations of racism in local high school basketball, you gotta be there.

If you suspect that Pat Williams is “the sort of person many parents would want coaching their children — and watching their backs” (Mr. Moynihan, T&G), or that “he also may be . . . someone who deserves not a circle-the-wagons reprimand but something more akin to Teacher of the Year” (Worcester Magazine), you gotta be there.

Thursday, March 16th , 6pm, Worcester City Hall. The rally is at 6pm, followed by the School Committee meeting inside City Hall at 7pm. Updates at Indymedia. Rally sponsored by Saints Francis & Therese Catholic Worker.

  • Support an independent investigation of Coach Williams’s concerns
  • Oppose retaliation against Coach Williams.
  • Speak out against unjust bias of all kinds.
  • Support School Committee member Dr. Ogretta McNeil’s motion to “…review those unacceptable behaviors which consciously and unconsciously may reflect bias….”

Also there will be like 500 members of the teacher’s union demonstrating outside on some other issue. So there will be a big social aspect.

Coach Williams rally video

Here’s some video from last week’s rally to support Coach Pat Williams at City Hall. It was shot by Hermis Yanis.

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Democracy: Internet TV

Racism? I’m shocked!

So the big story in Worcester is not that the refs at a couple South High vs. Holy Name basketball games made bizarre calls that handed the games to Holy Name.

The big story is that the South High coach, in a considered statement to the press, violated Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rules by criticizing the refs and suggesting they were motivated by racism:

“It’s everywhere, but the Catholic schools are worse,” [South coach Patrick Williams] told the Telegram & Gazette in a 29-minute interview after his team’s 60-56 loss Sunday afternoon at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “You have the same officials, and they look at all black players and a black coach, and they make the calls.”
(Telegram & Gazette)

T&G subscribers can get part of the story over there. Indymedia has Scott Schaeffer-Duffy’s take:

I saw five South High games this year and noticed a definite difference when South played Holy Name and Saint John’s. In both games, South took substantial leads over their opponents only to suddenly face a disproportionate number of foul calls against them. It was like watching the all-black squad from South having to play with cement blocks on their feet to even up the competition.
If we dismiss Coach Williams’s charge without absolutely clear independent review, we tell black youth in Worcester that they will never get a fair shake in this town. Let’s not go that route.

My favorite tidbit is that Worcester Public Schools athletic director John Pepi called the refs to apologize. That’s right: no investigation has happened, but the schools have apologized to the refs.

This reminds me of Harry Whittington apologizing to Dick Cheney for getting shot.
Continue reading “Racism? I’m shocked!”