The US Women’s National Hockey Team, reigning world champs, announced earlier this month that they would not be participating in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship games beginning on March 31, citing more than a year of stalled negotiations with USA Hockey to secure fair wages and support. To understand the value that the USWNT brings to the sport, you should know–The existing U.S. Women’s National Team has medaled in all five Olympic Games that featured women’s hockey and won the world championships seven times since 2000. In the same time frame, the Men’s U.S. National Hockey Team has won two Olympic and two World Championship silvers.
“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 captain Meghan Duggan, who helped Team USA win six of those World Championships as well as silver medals in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. “We have represented our country with dignity and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect” (ballardspahr.com).
According to CNN Money and the USA Hockey player handbooks for the 2013 and 2014 IIHF competitions, the discrepancies between male and female hockey players include:
The men were allowed to bring along a guest while competing in the world championship games. USA Hockey paid for their guests’ transportation costs, and the guests were permitted to stay in the player’s hotel room.
The guests were allowed to stay until the end of the championships and also received breakfast, game tickets and an apparel package.
Not only were the women not permitted a guest, they were forced to share a room with a teammate.
The men traveled to the IIHF games in business class while the women traveled in coach. On the return trip, the men could choose to travel with their guests in economy.
USA Hockey paid for the disability insurance of players on the men’s team but not for players on the women’s team, according to the handbooks.
The USWNT has united in solidarity with not only the NWHL, CWHL, NCAA and Whitecaps players, but with Women’s Junior U-18 teams as well. In a statement released by the U.S. Women’s Hockey team, players said this:
“[We] are aware that USA Hockey is attempting to secure a team to play in the World Championship, in case the players and USA Hockey are unable to reach agreement. As we have maintained from the beginning, this issue is about more than the compensation of the current team: it’s about equitable treatment for female players now and in the future. A forward-looking agreement will benefit the next generation of players even more than the current players. For that reason, and the fact that the younger players identify with us, we are confident that they would choose not to play.
Some in the media have asked if USA Hockey made a counter proposal. They did—they made a disappointing offer that didn’t reflect the progress of the negotiations. We ask that they approve the original agreement that, the players believed, was acceptable to both parties after Monday’s meeting.”
According to sources, U.S. Hockey has been in contact with potential replacements for the upcoming tourney in Michigan later this month and plan on having a team in the Championships, or face a fine of up to $15,000. The USWNT is confident that U.S. Hockey will have a difficult time putting together a team of scabs. In a piece for Vice Sports, Anya Battaglino, the head of the NWHL Players’ Association and a player on the Connecticut Whale had this to say,
“I think you won’t see [NWHL players agreeing to be scabs], but I think if you do, there’s a really rough conversation that needs to happen after that,” Battaglino said. “How do they fit into the framework of the NWHLPA, and how do they fit into the growth and development of the league if they’re not willing to stand behind player advocacy for the betterment of our sport?”
Battaglino added that if a player did cross over, she might find herself frozen out in the locker room…
“I think it is going to appear like you stand against [us],” said Battaglino. “If you don’t stand with us, you stand against us.”
Wanna know more about the wage gap in Women’s Hockey? Watch this short documentary and support the team by tweeting #BeBoldForChange.
xoxo C. Diva