The disrespect visited upon the US women’s national hockey team has been a cascade of contempt so incessant, it seems designed just to provide writing fodder for Rebecca Solnit. It’s not just the $20,000 in stipend pay for every four years of work. It’s not just the absence of equitable support for issues as basic as travel accommodations and food. It’s not just the fact that this team has cleared every bar for success, winning silver in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics along with six world championships, and are still treated like an afterthought by USA Hockey.
It’s the insulting slights USA Hockey piles onto the injuries. It’s the fact that when the Olympic uniforms were unveiled before the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, the men’s team was invited to the press conference and the women learned about the presser on television. It’s the fact that these newly minted jerseys listed the Team USA’s historic honors and left off the storied 1998 gold medal won by these very women. It’s the fact that USA Hockey has a sizable budget to develop youth hockey for boys, and offers only crumbs to aid the growth of girls’ play. After a year of trying to negotiate some kind of terms to remedy these issues, the defending World Champions are taking the only step they have left. They are threatening to strike and sit out the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship, taking place at the end of march in Plymouth, Michigan. In a shocking statement, released on the Twitter feeds of team stars Hilary Knight and Amanda Kessel, the players said the following:
The members of the US Women’s National Hockey team announce that we will not be playing in the 2017 IIHF women’s world championship in Plymouth, Michigan, unless significant progress has been made on the year-long negotiations with USA Hockey over fair wages and equitable support. We have asked USA Hockey for equitable support as required by the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act. Specifically, we have asked for equitable support in the areas of financial compensation, Youth team development, equipment, travel expenses, hotel accommodations, meals, staffing, transportation, marketing and publicity. The goals of our requests are to receive fair treatment from USA Hockey, to initiate the appropriate steps to correct the outlined issues, and to move forward with a shared goal of promoting and growing girls and women in our sport while representing the United States and future competitions, including the Women’s World Championship. Putting on the USA jersey represents the culmination of many years of hard work and sacrifice that reflect our love of both hockey and country. In making these request, we are simply asking USA Hockey to comply with the law.
Captain Meghan Duggan followed that up with a statement that read,