If you feel you’re being underpaid, boycotting your sport’s world championship is certainly a good way of getting attention.
The US women’s team has announced that they will not take part in the IIHF Women’s World Championship, which begins on March 31, unless there is progress on fair wages and equitable support for the team from USA Hockey.
— Hilary Knight (@Hilary_Knight) March 15, 2017
Outside of the Olympic period, most of the funding the team receives comes from the US Olympic Committee – players are expected to train full time and compete in non-Olympic years.
Members of the men’s team can compete in the NHL, where the minimum salary is more than $500,000 – conversely, for women the NWHL’s salaries, which did range from $10,000 to $26,000, have recently been reduced.
Ballard Spahr, the law firm representing the US women’s team, released a statement in which the team 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.”
I support what USA Hockey women's team are doing. They are fighting for basic principals and not huge wages…
— Cassie Campbell (@CassieCampbell) March 15, 2017
Ballard Spahr’s statement continued: “Approximately half of the players on the Women’s National team hold second or third jobs,” and cited “inequitable support for equipment, staff, meals, travel expenses, transportation, and publicity” as areas of concern.
It also mentioned that in the build-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics, the women’s team were left out of the unveiling of the top that both the men and the women would be wearing. The women found out having seen it on TV.
USA Hockey responded with a statement of their own, saying: “USA Hockey has a long-standing commitment to the support, advancement and growth of girls and women’s hockey and any claims to the contrary are unfounded.”
USA Hockey also said it would commit to continuing dialogue, mentioning that they “will field a competitive team” for the forthcoming world championships.
US Womens hockey sitting out the world championship is huge. Good for them though for standing up for fair treatment like that
— Courtney Andros (@Courtstar413) March 15, 2017
Sitting out of the competition they’ve won seven times is a pretty big deal, but the support the team have been receiving has been substantial.
USA striker Alex Morgan backed up her compatriots – the women’s national soccer team have faced their share of pay disputes.
— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) March 15, 2017
— Andi Perelman (@AndiPerelman) March 15, 2017
Others backed the team’s boycott as well.
Proud of the USA Women's Hockey team for standing up for what they deserve. We support you! #BeBoldForChange
— Sporting Chic (@sportingchic) March 15, 2017
— Gerry Dee (@gerrydee) March 15, 2017
Not everybody was on board – some suggested other measures.
#USWomenshockey here is an idea, form a US Womens Hockey organization and you will have total control to pay out whatever you make.
— Thomas Hoffman (@Hoff_27) March 15, 2017
Others were a little more frank in their response.
You cant expect to get paid more for something that is less popular or just straight up unpopular.didnt know there was US womens hockey
— Rob (@packerman468) March 15, 2017
But the team felt the love, using the hashtag #BeBoldForChange to promote their cause.
Thank you for the continued support today! We will stand strong.#BeBoldForChange
— Amanda Kessel (@AmandaKessel8) March 15, 2017
— Hilary Knight (@Hilary_Knight) March 16, 2017
With the championships just a fortnight away, we won’t have to wait long to see whether the team follows through with their boycott, or if progress will be made.