The US Women’s Hockey Team recently announced plans to sit out a popular local tournament in an effort to raise awareness for the cause of fair pay for women, especially in sports.
According to CNN, the women will skip the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Michigan… unless they are successful in their attempts to move contract negotiations forward with USA Hockey.
If Team USA skips this showdown, it will mean the tournament’s reigning champions will not be there to defend their title, which would be an embarrassment not only to USA Hockey but also to the promoters of the event.
Competing teams won’t be happy either. It’s one thing to win a tournament, but that win will always have an asterisk when the top team doesn’t compete. Everyone will always wonder what may have happened if this year’s winner and last year’s winner had a chance to play each other.
The women’s team does have a point. They’re arguably even more successful than the men’s team, but they don’t get the pay or the treatment the men’s team enjoys, including equipment, staffing, per diems, publicity, and travel. The ladies have been asking for equality on these issues for over a year now, and team captain Meghan Duggan released a statement indicating that they’re tired of waiting without an answer:
“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…”
Champions, treated as an afterthought? Yes, that’s their contention, and it’s a narrative many fans have taken up. But Duggan wasn’t done:
“We have represented our country with dignity and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.”
And that, more than anything, is what grabbed headlines. Americans not being treated with respect and dignity by the country they represent? Not a good look, certainly, and the very idea of that happening is winning sympathy for their cause. But, at least up to now, not everyone is listening.
USA Hockey responded that they would issue “stipends and incentives for medals that could result in each player receiving nearly $85,000 in cash…”
But the women say no such offer was ever extended. Now, USA Hockey has to cope with proving their offer and proving that they respect and value the women on their team. If they fail to prove … or if there is no proof … of the offer, then that just strengthens the ladies’ case.