USA Women's Hockey Players Threaten Boycott over Wage Dispute

The U.S. national team is a dominant player in women's ice hockey - they've medaled in all five Olympic Games that featured women's hockey, and won the world championships seven times since 2000. "It's unfortunate because we train every single day to represent our country, and the World Championships, with already limited programming in terms of games". They argue that the lack of support in these areas runs afoul of the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, which outlines legal protections for athletes competing on national teams.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, the team said negotiations over fair wages and support with USA Hockey had stalled for over a year, leading them to take this drastic move.

In addition, players will also be provided with a housing allowance, travel allowances, meal expenses, medical and disability insurance, and elite-level support staff to help train and prepare the players.

The Women's World Championship is set to kick off at the end of the month in Plymouth, Michigan, which means without the USA team, the tournament loses its hosts and defending champions. They are seeking more compensation and a four-year deal.

When asked by ESPN's Craig Custance earlier Thursday how she would respond to the deadline, team member Kacey Bellamy said: "We stand by our original position. we just stay strong. We regret that they have not instead chosen to reconsider their treatment of the current World Championship-winning team", the team said in an email to The Post.

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Hilary Knight read a text message from a former USA women's hockey player praising the team for not playing in the world championships over a wage dispute. "We continue to be grateful for the encouragement and loyalty of our fans".

A news release from the law firm, which once represented the us women's soccer team, said USA Hockey provides players only $1,000 per month during the six-month Olympic residency period and "virtually nothing" through the remainder of the four years in between Olympic Games.

The team's players said they would not play at their world championships - scheduled for two weeks in Plymouth, Mich. - because they are tired of being paid salaries that put them around the poverty line. As Molly Brooks wrote at The Nib, "when it's easier to find poker tournaments, spelling bees, and little league sports on channels than women's basketball, that sends a message about the value assigned to women's sports, and it's disingenuous to pretend the one doesn't have a direct effect on the other".

"But a lot of us have matured and grown through this program", she continued, "and have dedicated our lives to USA Hockey. It's about equitable support for females in this country", Duggan said. "And not one of those girls have gotten a World Championship ring". Men's and women's teams negotiate contracts separately, so it's hard to spot immediate inequalities. There's no such program for girls, and the Women's National Team only plays in 9 games a year when there isn't Olympic competition, even though they've asked for more games to be put on the schedule.

  • Lawrence Cooper