Wednesday morning, Hilary Knight (and other players) tweeted a statement from the member’s of the US Women’s National Team. The statement announced the intention of the players to not play in the IIHF World Championship tournament in Michigan due to ongoing negotiations with USA Hockey.
US WNT will not play in 2017 World Championship due to stalled negotiations over fair wages and support from USA Hockey #BeBoldForChange pic.twitter.com/qEXVyoKE6y— Hilary Knight (@Hilary_Knight) March 15, 2017
With several players tweeting the same statement in the morning, it took till 2:00 PM Central time for USA Hockey to issue its response:
USA Hockey supports the equitable treatment of our female athletes, a commitment going back decades: https://t.co/fTfFM8g24A pic.twitter.com/s6w4kLDFiu— USA Hockey (@usahockey) March 15, 2017
The players followed USA Hockey’s statement with a response of their own:
Now the players have responded to USA Hockey's response. I don't think this is gonna end soon. https://t.co/LEh0GuArpM pic.twitter.com/8nEv4ijaT0— Travis Waldron (@Travis_Waldron) March 15, 2017
Before we go any further, it must be said that there are several stellar sources for information on the Women’s side of the game. These include, but are not limited to, former HW writer Angelica Renée, Zoë, Hannah Bevis, Title IX Hockey, the Victory Press, and SBN’s own The Ice Garden. Almost all have written articles and commentary on this matter, and they are all worth reading. In addition, Hillary Knight went on Altitude Sports to discuss the situation.
So, what’s going on? The short version is, the USWNT feels it is not being fairly paid compared to the USMNT. This is tough to know for sure, since salaries and contracts are not public knowledge, but it seems a reasonable assumption. We do know that the Men’s team has an annual budget of $3.5M.
This move by the WNT comes after a drawn out wage dispute; this isn’t the first salvo of the battle, it is merely the latest. The Women’s hockey team is also not the only team in the midst of such a dispute: players from the US Women’s Soccer team filed suits against US Soccer for similar reasons nearly a year ago.
Given the parties involved, you would be best served reading any of the above links for information about the gender-based discrimination that goes on- as a guy with limited-at-best knowledge, I’m helping no one by talking about it.
Here’s what we do know, however:
The US Women’s team has medaled in every olympic games since Women’s hockey was added- 1998. The Men’s team has only medaled twice in that timespan. The Women’s team has won Silver or Gold in every IIHF World Championship tournament since 1990. The men have only medaled four times, winning Bronze all four times.
To cut to the chase: The USWNT has medaled in every tournament it’s competed in.
The obvious retort is that the level of competition is lower for the women’s team. Irrelevant. The Women’s team has been a bastion of success since its creation, and deserves to be compensated fairly
There are two big differences between the suits filed by the US Soccer team and this statement. 1) This is a statement of intent and not legal action. 2) Whereas the soccer suits included five of the top players, this includes the entire USWNT player pool:
Thought @moniquelam7′s response to USAH on instagram should also be seen here. #BeBoldForChange pic.twitter.com/oUk7kuvVOa— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) March 15, 2017
When the entirety of a program stands up and says something is wrong, there’s probably something wrong. Keep an eye on the above twitter accounts for updates on this story.