Read more here.In between serving beers to customers during the opening round of the Big East tournament on Wednesday night, longtime Madison Square Garden vendor Gerard Cerda overheard the news he had been dreading all day.Two fans were discussing the NBA’s decision to halt the season until further notice as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.Cerda had been following the spread of the virus in the media, but he hadn’t anticipated that it would wreak havoc on the sports world so quickly. The 45-year-old Bronx resident was smart enough to recognize that the NBA’s indefinite shutdown meant it was a matter of time before the NCAA, NHL and Major League Baseball followed suit.For most Americans, the unprecedented suspension of the nation’s major sports means fewer entertainment options. For Cerda and tens of thousands of other ushers, ticket takers, security guards and concessionaires who depend on the income they earn inside arenas, it’s far more serious than that.“If there’s no event going on, you don’t work,” Cerda said. “And if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.”Having saved up enough money to support himself and his family while sports are on hiatus, Cerda is one of the lucky ones who isn’t living paycheck-to-paycheck. His big fear is whether he’ll be able to work enough hours to keep his health insurance.Some of Cerda’s peers have even more pressing concerns than that. Friends or fellow union members have bombarded him with calls and texts since Wednesday night wondering how they’re going to pay next month’s rent or provide food and clothes for their kids.“For a lot of folks, this is their only job,” Cerda said. “This is how they pay their bills, how they get health insurance. Folks are scrambling. People are upset. People are fearful. We’re trying to get answers. We don’t know what is going on.”The widespread panic and uncertainty among Cerda’s coworkers is a reminder of who is hurt most the longer American sports stay on hiatus. It’s arena workers accustomed to making only a few dollars above minimum wage that will feel the squeeze more than deep-pocketed athletes or team owners.
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