The coronavirus pandemic may have put an abrupt halt on major sports leagues’ schedules, however, athletes and teams are finding a way to give back. Several high-profile stars and organizations are donating funds to aid workers who now find themselves without pay as arenas across the country are suspending event operations.
NBA stars Kevin Love, Zion Williamson, Blake Griffin and Giannis Antetokounmpo are among the biggest names to contribute to staff working at their respective team’s home arenas. Meanwhile, several NBA and NHL teams have spoken out and announced they are putting plans in place to compensate arena workers while the seasons are suspended.
“Through the game of basketball, we’ve been able to address major issues and stand together as a progressive league that cares about the players, the fans, and the communities where we work,” Love wrote in an Instagram post last week. “I’m concerned about the level of anxiety that everyone is feeling and that is why I’m committing $100,000 through the @KevinLoveFund in support of the @Cavs arena and support staff that had a sudden life shift due to the suspension of the NBA season. I hope that during this time of crisis, others will join me in supporting our communities.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers forward set off an impressive movement, as Antetokounmpo and Griffin both followed suit by donating $100,000 themselves. Pelicans star Williamson announced that he would personally cover the salaries of all Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days.
“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 tweeted. “Me and my family pledge to donate $100,000 to the Fiserv Forum staff. We can get through this together!”
NHL star Sergei Bobrovsky has pledged the same amount to part-time workers at the BB&T Center while the Florida Panthers are on hiatus. The team matched his donation and led to several other organizations – including the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks – laying out plans to pay arena workers.
The NBA was the first professional sports league to halt its season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus shortly before they were set to take on the Thunder in Oklahoma City. Gobert has since pledged to donate $500,000 to various causes as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 outbreak. $200,000 of the donation will go directly to Utah Jazz event staff at Vivint Smart Home Arena, while $100,000 will go towards aiding those affected in Utah and Oklahoma City. Gobert has also donated 100,000 euro to those impacted by the virus in his home country of France.
“I know there are countless ways that people have been impacted,” Gobert said in a statement. “These donations are a small token that reflect my appreciation and support for all those impacted and are the first of many steps I will take to try and make a positive difference, while continuing to learn more about COVID-19 and educate others.”