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 #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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