MILWAUKEE - Thousands of workers would have staffed the 450 NBA and NHL games that will not be played over the next month in response to the pandemic.
And then there are the more than 300 spring training and regular-season baseball games, 130 NCAA Division I men’s and women’s tournament games, 50 or so Major League Soccer matches, all international golf and tennis tournaments, and who-knows-how-many high school, small college and other entertainment events canceled or postponed because of the global health crisis.
The total economic impact of the loss of sports and other events because of the pandemic — assuming only a month shutdown — is impossible to calculate but will reach the billions, easily.
Tickets aren’t being sold, so teams and leagues and organizing bodies lose money. Fans aren’t going to events that aren’t happening, so taxi drivers and ride-share operators have no one to ferry to and from those places. Hotel rooms will be empty. Beers and hot dogs aren’t being sold, so concessionaires and vendors lose money. Wait staff and bartenders aren’t getting tips. Without those tips, their babysitters aren’t getting paid.
The trickle-down effect sprawls in countless directions.
Some teams and top players are trying to help. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, within minutes of the NBA shutdown announcement, said he wanted to find a way to help workers who will lose money because games won’t be played. By Friday, he had his plan: “We will pay them as if the games happened,” he told The Associated Press in an email.
On Friday, reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks made a $100,000 pledge on behalf of his family — and the team said later Friday that fellow Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton also donated $100,000.
“It’s bigger than basketball! And during this tough time I want to help the people that make my life, my family’s lives and my teammates lives easier,” Antetokounmpo wrote on Twitter.
On Saturday, every player on the Bucks' roster pledged to make a donation to a fund to pay workers during what will be at least a 30-day period without NBA games.
The Bucks' ownership has also agreed to match the contributions made by the players.
"We're all in this together," Bucks guard Pat Connaughton tweeted on Saturday.
"No we’re not responsible, but when you have a good heart you’re ok with helping people get through tough times and never want anything in return," Bucks guard Frank Mason III tweeted on Saturday.