NBA sheds 300 jobs

The NBA has shed more than 300 jobs between its central offices and its 30 basketball teams since the lockout began last July and 114 employees were terminated, according to Tim Frank, an NBA spokesperson. The losses have started to trickle down to others involved in the business.

"An NBA player can afford to not play for a year, but those in the league's front offices might not have the same freedom to get by without working," said Ashley McCown, who specializes in crisis communications as president of the Boston-based public relations firm Solomon McCown & Co. "That's not to mention the impact on all of the ancillary workers, from concessionaires to t-shirt vendors."

Likewise, the opportunities for newcomers to jump into the business will remain closed until the games begin again, said Wayne McDonnell, associate professor of sports management at New York University's School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

"The gateway to entry-level marketing jobs has been shut for the time being," he said. "Each team typically hires ten to a dozen marketers during the regular season. That's at least 300 part-time jobs and internships for game nights alone that they're losing."

Those ground floor jobs typically allow sports marketers to learn the strategies of in-game promotions and product sponsorships and then move onto bigger roles.

"The marketing skills that people learn on regular game nights are incredibly valuable," said McDonnell, who spent four years of his career on the game night staff of the New York Rangers Hockey Club between 2000 and 2004.

Some of the 114 employees laid off five months ago, when the NBA lockout began, have now started to pursue alternative career paths. "For a period I felt like I was dangling, not knowing what was going on," said Scott Lauer, a former radio announcer for the Charlotte Bobcats who was let go by the team in July. "Two of the other people who were laid off both landed front office jobs at the Lowe's here in Charlotte."

Since his own termination, which the team initially told him was a temporary move, Lauer has become as an independent broadcasting agent and a fill-in broadcaster with ESPN3, he said.

"Helping others as an agent is certainly something I'm going to continue doing throughout my career," he said, "Hopefully returning as the voice of the Bobcats."

Among the known teams that have cut back on their staffs, including the Charlotte Bobcats, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Lakers, some have also slashed payrolls for existing employees, said one former NBA employee who asked not to be identified.

But while some positions remain uncertain, middle- to upper-level marketing executives are in a relatively safe position due to their skills and experience levels, said McDonnell.

"These teams know that they are going to have to send an olive branch to the fans when the lockout finally comes to an end," said McDonnell. "Who's going to have to handle that? Their top marketing people."

Source: Sales Jobs Fins