Since the global COVID-19 pandemic began, many athletes, teams, and leagues have taken roles to help their communities. From sharing information on self-isolation to donating needed money to those who are financially impacted, they have shown leadership.
It was NBA commissioner Adam Silver who first took the bold step of cancelling the NBA season after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus. There are several people associated with NBA teams who have tested positive, including Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, Utah Jazz point guard Donovan Mitchell, Detroit Pistons forward Christian Wood, and Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart.
With many parts of the world and practically all of the United States shutting down to prevent the spread of the virus, many people will be affected for some time. These include arena workers. They rely on games and other live entertainment events to earn a living. Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers was the first NBA player to pledge support to help them financially.
“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," Love posted to his Instagram account on March 13. "I hope that during this time of crisis, others will join me in supporting our communities." Love’s donation will help employees at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse arena, and his gesture quickly inspired others to do the same.
Shortly after, Milwaukee Bucks Forwards Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton stepped up, which led to the whole team helping the more than 1,000 workers at Fiserv Forum with pay over the course of the corona virus lockdown. Standout rookie Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans pledged to cover a month’s worth of wages for the staff at Smoothie King Center.
On Instagram, Willamson said, “The people of New Orleans have been incredibly welcoming and supportive since I was Drafted by the Pels last June, and some of the most special people I have met are those who work at smoothie King Center. These are the folks who make our games possible, creating the perfect environment for our fans and everyone involved in the organization. Unfortunately, many of them are still recovering from long term challenges created by Katrina, and now face the economic impact of the postponement of games because of the virus. My mother has always set an example for me about being respectful for others and being grateful for what we have, and so today I am pledging to cover the salaries for all of those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days."
In fact a number of big-name athletes are doing their part to help people in need. Sports agency Octagon launched Athletes for Relief, which, according to the site, helps “local nonprofits working in areas identified as having high numbers of affected individuals and with the most vulnerable populations today.” The effort is encouraging donations of at least $25 from fans, who will be automatically entered to win signed memorabilia from famous athletes, with 100 percent of the funds going to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s COVID-19 response fund. Some of the athletes involved are Steph Curry, Shaun White, David Ortiz, Elena Delle Donne, Michael Phelps, and Simone Biles.
There are many sporting events that probably will not happen, including the Olympics in Tokyo this summer. All across the world, just like the pros, youth athletes will not take part in upcoming games or matches, including this SI Kids Kid Reporter, whose golf and fishing season have been put on hold.
But the fact that some athletes are doing their part to try and help is good. Even if the gesture is some words of encouragement, athletes are trying to do their part to support their communities. On March 18, NY Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist posted this on Twitter: “Not many of us have experienced anything like this. Let’s be thoughtful, kind and somewhat optimistic. We all need so much good energy around us as possible, especially in times like these. We are all in this together and I wish you all the very best.”
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