#BeBoldForChange was the hashtag of choice for those involved and supporting the USA National Women’s Hockey Team in their quest for change with USA Hockey. Last night, it was confirmed that being bold for a long overdue change can, in fact, make a difference. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my last article outlining the boycott. Thirteen days after the USWNT decided to boycott the 2017 World Championships in Michigan, a deal was reached and it is confirmed that we will see the reigning World Champions back in action.
What’s Happened Between Now and Then?
Since the boycott was announced, we’ve seen the world react in ways I’m sure even the USWNT couldn’t have imagined. While they stood together for a change for their sport, much of the world came together to stand with them, and all women. On the other side of the spectrum, there were some pieces information about USA Hockey revealed that, combined with their reaction of attempting to find a filler team rather than successfully negotiate with the women, is shaping up to be a near irreparable hit to the organization. Here’s a taste of what happened:
- USA Hockey kept to their initial word of trying to find a replacement team for the Worlds, and were turned down by almost every player they reached out to, including high school players. This makes me wonder if the negotiations would have happened the way they did had USA Hockey not been turned down by almost every female hockey player in the United States. They seemed to follow through on negotiations because they were denied by every other player, not because they felt it was the right thing to do. Kudos to all of the USA female hockey player for foregoing the opportunity of playing in the World Championships to stand with the USWNT!
- It was reported that USA Hockey brought in $41.9 million in 2014, yet the USWNT players only saw $1500 per year of that and were also witness to severely underdeveloped programs for females. Heck, they couldn’t even use any of that revenue to sew “1998” (the year the women won Olympic gold) on the sleeve of the Team USA’s jerseys. Instead, the women have to don the same jerseys as the men, with only “1960” and “1980” sewn into the sleeve to represent the men’s two Olympic gold medal wins.
- It was also unveiled that USA Hockey turned down an opportunity to participate in a rematch against Team Canada after the 2014 Sochi Olympics. A game that would’ve been played at the Air Canada Centre, had a large sum of prize money attached to it, and could’ve brought even more attention to the women’s game after an exposing matchup at the Olympics.
In the second half of the podcast, McLaughlin tells a story from the 2014 Olympics about a potential Canada/USA rematch game and just… pic.twitter.com/b9MmZIi9dG
— Hannah Bevis (@Hannah_Bevis1) March 27, 2017
- The USA Men’s World Championships Team (scheduled to begin their tournament in May) spoke out saying they would also boycott in solidarity with the women.
- Multiple US Senators wrote a letter to the USA Hockey’s Executive Director urging him to resolve the issue.
You could say USA Hockey has found themselves in a bit of PR nightmare since the boycott was announced.
What’s the Deal?
While both parties chose to leave specific financial details out of the media, USA Hockey has agreed to the following terms, according to ESPN:
• USA Hockey will allocate $950,000 by the final year of the backloaded agreement to a compensation pool for the players.
Previously, USA Hockey paid each member of the women’s national team only $6,000 for the six-month training residency before each Olympic Games. The other three-and-a-half years, the players’ only financial support came in training stipends that the USOC provides athletes.
• Until now, those USOC training stipends ranged from $750 for newer members of the women’s national hockey team to a cap of $2,000 a month. Going forward, every national team player will get the maximum $2,000 monthly stipend, regardless of her experience level, with USA Hockey making up whatever monthly difference the USOC doesn’t pay.
• For the first time, USA Hockey will pay the women’s team performance bonuses ($20,000 for a gold medal, $15,000 for silver) to supplement the five-figure performance bonuses the USOC pays athletes in all sports.
• For the first time, the women’s team will receive the same level of travel arrangements and insurance coverage as the men’s team. The women’s per diem was bumped up from $15 a day for non-travel days at events to $50, the same as the men’s.
• USA Hockey and the players will establish a committee to make recommendations on how the federation can improve its marketing, scheduling, public relations efforts and promotion of the women’s game.
• USA Hockey will add a foundation position to improve fundraising and other efforts for its girls’ developmental teams, which currently receive virtually nothing compared to the $3.5 million the boys’ program receives and the additional $1.4 million USA Hockey pours into the USHL, a top-tier league for 16- to 20-year-old boys.
Even without knowing exactly what the women’s team was asking for in terms of money, it’s still safe to say that this new deal is a solid step forward in helping these women survive while competing for their country. One of the areas of the deal I’m most interested to see the impact of is the increased fundraising and efforts for marketing and development programs for young girls. It will be specifically interesting to see the progression of the women’s game (including an increase in profit) in the future as a response to these changes.
Now, we watch the reigning World Champions play their hearts out on home soil knowing that they are the reason that an entire nation, and world, is more informed about their sport and ultimately, the reason that little girls and women around the world can watch them and dream even bigger than before.
If you’re not from the USA, you may not be cheering for Team USA on the ice, but you’ll sure as hell be commending them for their incredible work off the ice. Let these women be proof that we don’t have to accept things the way they are; if you want to see change, be that change.
If you want to check out the action that kicks off on Friday, here’s the full schedule for you: