As the Coronavirus spread rapidly not only in the United States, but worldwide, one by one sports leagues just as the NBA, NHL and MLB were being suspended, canceled or postponed. As a sports photographer who relies on shooting sports for income, it was a swift kick in the back of the head that my income streams went from plenty to none in a blink of an eye. And I’m not alone either, many others who are freelancers or use gigs to pay jobs are now stuck in the reality that they have no money coming in for the foreseeable future.
I think we’ve all been watching the news for the past month or so about the disease that was tearing up Asia and Europe. It was only a matter of time before it appeared on the shores of the US and when it did it set in widespread panic among us all. Little by little each league was sending out memos and having meetings about the virus to properly educated their players on the do’s and don’ts of the virus. I was photographing the Red-Sox Spring Training game against the Minnesota Twins and for a few hours before the game, the teams were having meetings about the Coronavirus. I was hoping it was for precautionary purposes never thinking that the entire sports industry, both collegiate and pro, would effectively shut down.
The first domino fell when Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus and then all the pieces started to fall. And as they fell I saw my potential income fall with it. One by one March Madness, MLB, NHL, the PGA all postponed or canceled their events. Events in general were shutting down faster than the news could report them.
Yes, as a sports photographer who relies on the sports for income, I understand that I’m not the only one who watched their income source vanish. Other hourly workers for the stadiums and arenas all across the country had money they depended on for the rent, car notes, etc. disappear. If you thought the panic about the Coronavirus was bad, image the panic set in when the bank comes on the first of the month expecting their mortgage payment and all you have is some lint from your pockets to give them.
What frustrates me is not that the leagues decided to suspend play, but the fact that this could have all been avoided or to an extent had the government acted with an abundance of caution and responded quicker to isolate the sick and distribute testing kits instead of going on the news saying the Coronavirus was another way to attach the President and was a hoax. Thoroughly cleaning stadiums, arenas, airports should have been a norm, not just a reactionary move because of the spread of the virus. Hell, we all should have been washing our hands and covering our noses or mouths when we sneezed or coughed. There is plenty of blame to go around, but the majority of this falls squarely on the ineffectiveness of this administration and government.
The questions is what do we do know as freelancers who won’t have any work for the foreseeable future? There are some on Twitter who suggest sports being canceled isn’t the end of the world and that we should read a book or find a new hobby. Their ignorance is up there with those who want to pay us creatives with exposure. Athletes will still get paid, the people who work the arenas and provide content such as photos and video will not. Our livelihood was rooted in sports being played. Reading a book or getting a new hobby is not going to pay the bills. Even though sports has ceased for the time being, the bills do not.
As I read reports of the Fed about to pump in $1.5 trillion dollars into the stock market to stabilize it, I ask where is the bailout for the middle class? The working class that every politician poignantly claims as the backbone of America yet they continue to step on and hold them hostage? Why are the banks, big businesses and the wealthy always the beneficiary when it comes to disasters and not the people who need it the most?
What this Coronavirus has shown me is the healthcare isn’t a privilege its a human right, one that we need in the US. It has also shown me that the government is needed on a bigger basis than they would like to admit. Of course when our health infrastructure was ripped and shredded down over the years by not just this current administration, but by others, it affects as all. Perhaps instead of writing blank checks for the war industrial complex, we take that abundance of money and place back where it belongs, with the people to ensure we all have the proper healthcare so that this or any other pandemic ever again break us down.
I don’t know where my next check will come from or how my mortgage or car note will be paid now, but what I do know is that I’ve had enough of the big businesses such as Amazon, Google, the oil companies and big banks not paying any taxes on the billions they make in profits every year. Had they paid their taxes, just as the working class has to do, we could have had enough money for more Coronavirus testing kits. We could have had more money for ICU beds or respirators. Their taxes could have made sure none of our veterans were ever homeless or every kid could have three meals a day. There has to come a point where enough is enough and we no longer put profit over the well being of the people.
The Coronavirus may have shut down sports and other events, but what it has done, it has opened the eyes of many that we’re not prepared. That we cannot handle catastrophic events such as these without the help of a well functioning and prepared government. I hope this virus runs it’s course quickly and with minimal loss of life so we all can get back to doing what we love to do. In the meantime, take the proper precaution and I can’t wait to be back sharing my photos with you from various sporting events.