For the first time since 1999, NBA games have been canceled due to a lockout. While the NBA players and owners fight over millions of dollars of revenue, people who make a living by working in the concession stands, as ushers, at the ticket windows and many other jobs are out of work. Unlike the players, they do not make the big bucks off the 41 home games, but simply need the games to help pay the bills.
The battle between NBA owners and players is coming down to how high a percentage of basketball-related income (BRI) the players receive. The owners are offering the players 50 percent of BRI and the players are looking for 52 to 53 percent of BRI. The two sides are still many millions of dollars apart from making a deal. While the agreement is being settled, the hope of a season of any length is in serious question.
“Without the games, I have to find work to make up for the lost work and with the holidays coming up, money is going to be tight,” said Jessica Davis. Davis works at the concession stands at EnergySolutions Arena and counts on Jazz home games to support herself and her family.
There are many people in Davis’ same situation throughout Salt Lake City and the other 29 NBA cities. The people who make about $20,000 a year working in the arenas are the real losers in this lockout because they become unemployed for an indefinite time period.
It’s hard to blame either the players or the owners because they are in a competitive negotiation where each side is looking for the deal that’s best for them. The ugly side in professional sports is always the business side where, in almost every case, the owners and players disagree about how to split millions of dollars.
It’s easy to call the players greedy and the owners old and cheap. The common fan who pays lots of money for a ticket in the upper bowl doesn’t like to hear about how much money the players make. They just want to watch basketball. Greed and business always destroy the fun of the game.
In the last NBA lockout in the 1998-99 season, play finally began on February 5, 1999. It is likely that the 2011 season will be shortened similar to the 1999 season which consisted of 50 games, if a deal is reached at all.
The thousands of workers in NBA arenas across America such as Jessica Davis and the millions of NBA fans have one message for the league and its players.
“Get back to basketball NOW.”