The United States Women’s National Team made one hell of a statement today demanding equity and fair treatment from USA Hockey.
The USWNT players are prepared to boycott the upcoming 2017 Women’s World Championship in Michigan if progress is not made in negotiations to pay and treat American female hockey players equally.
In the past, USA Hockey has provided the players with $1,000 per month during the six-month Olympic residency period. According to the players, USA Hockey pays virtually nothing during the remainder of the four-year period, despite its expectation that in each of the non-Olympic years, the players train full-time and compete throughout the year.
Peerless hockey players with gold and silver medals are forced to question whether or not they can continue to pursue their career in hockey. The USWNT insist that being a member of the national team
"It is a full-time job and to not get paid is a financial burden and stress on players obviously. That is the conversation my husband and I are having right now," said Whitecaps star Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson. "Is playing going to be more stress than we can handle? Sadly it becomes a decision between chasing your dream or giving in to the reality of the financial burden."
The Whitecaps, who boast five national team players on their roster and several players with history with the USWNT have made it clear that they are standing with their athletes:
"The players have stated that their goal is to 'achieve fair treatment', and the Whitecaps are supportive of that effort."
Meghan Duggan, the captain of Team USA, gets straight to the point with the players’ demands for equal and fair treatment.
"We are asking for a living wage and for USA Hockey to fully support its programs for women and girls and stop treating us like an afterthought," said Duggan. "We have represented our country with dignity and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect."
At the center of the debate are players’ wages and The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act. The act requires national governing sports bodies to provide equal support and encouragement wherever there is a division between men and women in sports.
According to members of the USWNT, USA Hockey spends ~$3.5 million annually to support a schedule of more than 60 games a season for boys participating in its national team development program. Those developmental programs are not in place for girls.
In other words, there is no equality. That truth is only amplified by the fact that the women of the national team are either not paid by professional clubs or paid far less than a reasonable living wage.
New York Riveters’ star winger Amanda Kessel is one of the national team players who has stated she will not play in the 2017 Women’s World Championship. Kessel is just one of the many players in the NWHL with designs on competing for Olympic gold in PyeongChang in 2018 .
The Women’s World Championships are scheduled to begin on March 31st in Plymouth, Michigan. The approaching WWC was a key factor in the NWHL shortening its season, as negotiated by influential members of the USWNT that play in the league.
It’s time for USA Hockey to stop treating the women who wear our nation’s colors like second-class athletes. It’s time for change.