By Ken Reed
Nobody has been hit harder by all the sporting event cancellations caused by Covid-19 than low-wage workers at stadiums and arenas across the country.
Some pro sports owners have recognized this and are coming to the assistance of these workers.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been leading the way in this area. When NBA games were cancelled, he quickly made a commitment to support all the arena workers inside American Airlines Center, home of the Mavericks.
“I reached out to the folks at the arena and our folks at the Mavs to find out what it would cost to support, financially support, people who aren’t going to be able to come to work. They get paid by the hour, and this was their source of income.”
Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler also said his organization will take care of its part-time workers.
MLB owners pledged $1 million each to support ballpark workers impacted by the shutdown.
On the other side of the coin are owners who not only aren’t financially helping their low-wage workers, they are actually cutting salaries and/or laying off workers. Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who’s reportedly worth $3.3 billion according to Forbes, announced employee cuts after “difficult and painful deliberations.” Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has reportedly laid off 40,000 employees at his businesses. Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris was planning to cut employee salaries by 20%. However, after a public outcry he stopped those plans.
The employees most impacted by these decisions are often those who are literally surviving paycheck to paycheck. And if they miss a single check something has to give, whether it’s the rent, mortgage payment, groceries, or medicine for a family member.
Undoubtedly, these super-wealthy owners are going to feel some financial discomfort during this pandemic, but it’s all relative. Their basics — food, shelter and medicine — are covered. Their lifestyles won’t be significantly impacted. That’s not the case for their low-wage workers.
As Nancy Armour of USA Today pointed out recently, the general public in one way or the other has helped these owners thrive financially through the years, whether it be through publicly-financed stadiums, free or cheap public land to build their sports palaces on, huge tax breaks, or just police officers directing traffic on game days.
Jacobs, for instance, built his team’s TD Garden on public land. Fertitta gets to have his team play in an arena, the Toyota Center, built with public money.
Bottom line, these pro sports owners — who have benefitted so greatly from public tax dollars — have an ethical obligation to be better community citizens.
As Armour so adroitly puts it, “Workers aren’t looking for a handout like their billionaire bosses have gotten. Just a helping hand.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – The guest is Gary McCoy, a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations. Our focus is the injury pandemic in baseball, what’s causing it and how it can be fixed.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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