The biggest losers of the NBA lockout haven't been owners losing small portions of their overall worth or players missing games and paychecks. Instead, arena workers who depend on basketball games for paychecks have suffered most. For most of these people, the NBA supports not just their livelihood, but those of their families, as well. Some NBA players live paycheck-to-paycheck, but the stakes for them are nowhere near this high.
At least one player has realized what these workers have lost, but one nice dinner does little to assuage months of financial pain. They need more help, and some have reached out to charity. From Josh Robbins for the Orlando Sentinel (via EOB):
In addition to some concerts and a few other events, about 1,000 people worked inside the arena on Orlando Magic game days and game nights. Those folks were employed as security guards, ushers, ticket-takers, vendors, cashiers, parking-lot attendants and waitresses and waiters. Some jobs paid minimum wage, but that income often supplemented the money people earned at their day jobs.
"These are the people that greet us with a smile," said Pastor Scott George, who runs the Community Food & Outreach Center, a nonprofit that is offering help to game-night workers.
"They hand us our ticket. They hand us our hot dog and Coke. They clean up after we leave. And, now, they are the forgotten people that no one is talking about."
George estimated that between 40 and 75 game-night workers have used the Community Food & Outreach Center's services over the last few weeks. He said he's unsure of the exact number because some game-night workers are afraid that if they say something, they might not be able to go back to their jobs when the lockout ends.
The article has no information on similar programs in other cities, but it's a good idea that will hopefully spread soon. Arena workers don't have a say in collective bargaining talks and have no effective methods of voicing their displeasures. They're innocent bystanders and deserve some help.
On the other hand, there are many people in their situation in cities across the country. Lots of workers struggle to make ends meet, and they'll need help after the lockout ends. Hopefully the story of arena workers won't bring attention just to their plight, but to those of people who remain in need in perpetuity.