Editorial: Make billionaires pay hourly wages during quarantine

Michael Pearce, Sports Editor

The COVID-19 outbreak affects more people in sports than athletes. Thousands of employees in the stadiums, venues and offices surrounding professional sports are currently out of work as well.

To help combat this, professional athletes from different franchises have donated their money to help pay wages for hourly workers. While these athletes should receive praise for their generosity, what needs to be examined further is the fact that the billionaire owners are typically not helping their hourly employees.

Not all owners are withholding their money from hourly workers in these situations. The Golden State Warriors announced Friday, March 13 that their owners, players and coaches collectively are donating $1 million for disaster relief related to the coronavirus.

The Warriors’ front office deserves praise for its collective fundraising for less-fortunate employees. These employees that rely on their wages more than professional athletes and billionaire owners need help during this quarantine stage.

Other franchises in every sport need to follow suit of the Warriors at a time like this. 19-year-old Zion Williamson should not have to donate $100,000 of his first NBA salary to workers when Gayle Benson — who owns both the New Orleans Pelicans ($1.35 billion value) and New Orleans Saints ($2.275 billion value) — owns the team.

“My mother has always set an example for me about being respectful for others and being grateful for what we have,” Williamson said on Instagram. “So, today I am pledging to cover the salaries for all of those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days.”

Williamson was in college one year ago, today. While he is one of the wealthiest rookies to ever enter the league, he still is a rookie. Benson did announce she would donate $1 million to help establish a relief fund for people in New Orleans, only after Williamson donated part of his salary.

Other NBA players also helped the vendors, ushers, security staff and more who contribute to the game day experience. Milwaukee Bucks forward and 2019 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin donated $100,000 to their respective franchises as well.

These players have done a great deed for the employees that otherwise might go unnoticed. In an ideal world, all 30 owners in the NBA and every owner in every professional sports team will help their employees out like Benson, the Warriors and these athletes have done so far.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, spearheaded the movement for owners to pay employees during the league’s shutdown.

“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,” Cuban said, according to CNN. “They get paid by the hour, and this was their source of income …  I don’t have any details to give, but it’s certainly something that’s important to me.”

Owners like Cuban and Joseph Lacob of the Warriors are those in power who have shown they understand who this pandemic hurts the most.

This pandemic hurts the popcorn vendors, the beer guy, the T-shirt cannon operator and all their colleagues more than it hurts multi-millionaire professional athletes in the best physical shape humanly possible. It is time for all owners to follow the lead of Cuban and Lacob and take care of the employees who might not be able to take care of their families.