The U.S. Women’s National Team stood strong last Wednesday when they announced they’d sit out the World Championship as they seek equitable support from USA Hockey. The women aren’t looking for big-money contracts, as in the NHL. They aren’t asking for millions, they are only asking for a liveable wage.
The biggest complaint among the women were an unequal support of the men’s and women’s developmental programs. About $3.5 million gets awarded to the boys developmental program while the girls did not even have a program at the time. Players are expected to travel to various strength and conditioning camps if they have dreams of competing at the Olympics. But the only time the team is compensated is during the six-month pre-Olympic period. Most recently members of the U.S. Womens team were given a $1,000 per month living stipend.
The fact that the ladies only receive compensation for six months every four years is one of the reasons the team decided to take a stand. The defending world champions, announced last Wednesday they are set to boycott the Women’s World Championship after negotiations for equal support from USA Hockey stalled. The tournament is scheduled to take place in Plymouth, Michigan in less than two weeks.
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, a forward for the team said in an interview last week, “It’s disappointing that we train full time, are expected to win championships and perform at an elite level, but we aren’t financially supported by our national governing body to do so,”
After Wednesday’s announcement, USA Hockey came out with statement indicating that each player could receive nearly $85,000 during the upcoming Olympic period.
Lamoureux-Davidson called USA Hockey’s statement “very misleading and dishonest.” Due to these circumstances over half of the women work second or third jobs or live with family members. They aren’t asking to be payed like millionaire NHL stars, they aren’t even looking for a salary comparable to a mid level player on a two-way NHL deal. Rather, they are asking to be supported with a “liveable wage” similar to what full-time professionals in other fields earn. That would help remove the financial burden that can come along with playing for the national team.
The players want continued support over all four years and benefits that are given to the men’s teams that aren’t currently provided to the women. A long-term contract would include equitable support for transportation and travel, pregnancy benefits and disability insurance, all things the women don’t currently have but men’s teams receive. Lamoureux-Davidson called them “basic benefits”
Unlike males, women have to choose between careers and decide whether they can have a family while still being a member of the national team. It’s the very reason why women who are in the prime of their playing careers leave the game. Athletes should be able to leave the game they love on their own terms.