Why The U.S. Women's Hockey Team Is Boycotting Its Own Championships

Photo: Mike Groll/AP.
Equal play. Equal pay.
This is what the U.S. women’s hockey team is demanding for their participation in the IIHF World Championships, which begin on March 31. In a recently released statement, the team threatened to boycott the tournament if wages, benefits, and overall support isn’t increased soon.
Players on the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team announced today that they will not participate 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. The U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team is the reigning world champion, having won gold in six of the last eight World Championships, and the United States is hosting the games.
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In the the statement, the team's captain, Meghan Duggan, said: “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...We have represented our country with dignity and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.”
Duggan helped Team USA win six World Championships and silver medals in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. Players were scheduled to report to training camp on March 21, in Plymouth Michigan. However, it was clear that progress regarding their demands was moving too slow. They then informed USA Hockey — the National Governing Body of Ice Hockey in the United States — of their decision.
These issues are systemic and demonstrate a failure to prioritize—or even consider in a meaningful way—the support and growth of the sport for women and girls,” the statement continued. “As the national governing body for ice hockey in the United States, USA Hockey has a legal obligation to develop interest and participation in the sport of hockey, and to do so for all ages without regard to gender.
According to Deadspin, USA Hockey’s executive director Dave Ogrean released a statement in response to the matter. “We acknowledge the players’ concerns and have proactively increased our level of direct support to the Women’s National Team as we prepare for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games,” he said.
The statement also made a point to share the details of what the players could make playing on the team:
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The support USA Hockey is implementing in order to prepare the Women’s National Team for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games includes a six-month training camp, additional support stipends and incentives for medals that could result in each player receiving nearly $85,000 in cash over the Olympic training and performance period. The sum is in addition to a housing allowance, travel allowances, meal expenses, medical and disability insurance and the infrastructure that includes elite-level support staff to train and prepare the players.
However, the USA women’s team countered those details with a response indicating USA Hockey’s information is misleading.
The statement issued by USA Hockey today in response to our decision to sit out the World Championships is misleading. It suggests that USA Hockey is prepared to pay the players $85,000 during the Olympic year. That is simply not true and no such offer was ever extended. In its public statement, USA Hockey has coupled their contributions with payments made by the U.S. Olympic Committee, which pays gold medal-winning athletes more than $60,000. Further, it covers only the Olympic period and does not offer anything for each of the other three years during which a World Championship is played. Lastly, it does nothing to address the marketing and training support that is not on par with what it provides to the mens’ and boys’ teams.
The USA women’s hockey team aren’t the only women threatening to boycott the establishment. Earlier this month the USWNT (United States women's national soccer) also discussed the possibility of a strike. According to Deadspin, they decided not to strike. However, contracts are still being negotiated.
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