No sports, no paychecks: freelancer fights through coronavirus shutdown

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 10:12 PM CDT
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Santa Rosa Beach native Luke Thompson does a little bit of everything...

"I'm a freelance camera operator," Thompson explained. "I get crewed for football, baseball, basketball, softball, golf."

...for everyone.

"CBS Sports. ACC Network. ESPN Plus."

From the baseline to the back of the green, it's a dream job.

"It's just fascinating to bring that to people who enjoy sports as much as I do."

Now it's no longer a job at all. As the coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip on the country, freelancers were dealt a blow they never saw coming: a world without sports and paychecks.

"Everything was fine leading up to Thursday," Thompson said, recalling a surreal day at The Players Championship. "All of a sudden rumors started over the headset. 'This is canceled. NBA has postponed. What will March Madness do?' Then it was, 'will The Players finish?'"

He soon awoke to a nightmare.

"I was sleeping just fine. My girlfriend and my Dad called me, and they said, 'The Players is canceled.' Then it became, what does tomorrow look like? It's now beginning to set in that there's nine weeks of nothing going on. It's a whole slew of of thousands of Americans that are out of jobs in the sports industry."

Including nearly everyone you don't see during the game.

"90 percent of a production. Your camera operators, your audio people, your graphics that you see on the screen. They're all freelance people, utilities people now out of a job."

Thompson admits he and his Mom and Dad, who work CBS and the PGA TOUR, could be worse off. Still, they're all eager for return to normalcy and a return to another close-knit group.

"It's a family. They all travel week in and week out. You just hope for that next email to come that says 'this is back on and we want you on the crew.' My answer will be 'yes.'"

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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