Boycotting Hockey World Championships Draws Attention to Pay Equality

by Marie O.

The United States (US) Women’s hockey team announced recently that they would be boycotting the Hockey World Championships set to start in April hosted in Michigan. This comes after negotiation around pay have failed to meet the demands of the Women’s Hockey team. The boycott delivers direct action on an issue that is often overlooked in sports, the gender pay and opportunity gap in sport. In an article by Sportsnet, it was cited that the women’s hockey team only plays nine games a year in non-Olympic years and receives a small amount of funding, around $1000 a month for the six months before an Olympic games. The rest of the time USA hockey does not provide any funding for the women and many of the women on the team  work other jobs in addition to being elite athletes. The boycott is now one of many demonstrations, that have occurred following the election of Donald Trump, who’s presidency does not have a direct link to this issue, but does show how demonstrations that echo the era of second wave feminism have gained popularity again and sports is no exception.

The Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act is the cornerstone on which the US Women’s hockey team is forming their argument from. The Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act,  as cited by the Pat Iverson in her news article on the issues, ensures that sport organizations are required “provide equitable support and encouragement for participation by women where separate programs for male and female athletes are conducted on a national basis” (Iverson, 2017). The simple of comparison of the funding of male hockey players by USA Hockey is bleak with the men’s national team receiving $3.5 million a year (Waldron, 2017). This figure alone demonstrates the lack of equality in funding.

The lack of funding and opportunity for women’s hockey to gain momentum exemplifies what has been discussed in class. The opportunities that girls have to participate in sports, in particular high level sports is limited at best and while young boys are able to see role models and have the understanding that there is a possibility to excel and make a living playing sport, girls do not nor is this a reality for women who have become professional hockey players as many of them have careers in addition to being athletes.

When looking at this issue of equal opportunity and funding in a Canadian context, it isn’t as bleak through programs such as Own the Podium the funding available for the Women’s Hockey team is significantly more (Spencer, 2017).  While the situation in Canada is not perfect, it is better in financial term although it terms of opportunity we do not have to look far to see that opportunity is lacking. As many people, have shared in class there aren’t many opportunities for women in recreation league or in competitive leagues to participate. Does this gap exist because women’s sports aren’t as exciting? Or is it because women athletes don’t fit the traditional view of how women should act? Both probably have some truth but moving forward boycotts such as the one by the US Women’s Hockey team will hopefully change the answers to these questions.

References:

Iverson, P. (2017, March 15). USA women’s national hockey team to boycott 2017 World Championship over fair wages. SBnation. Retrieved from http://www.sbnation.com/nhl/2017/3/15/14934002/united-states-womens-national-hockey-team-boycott-2017-world-championship-equal-pay-usa-hockey

Rutherford, K. (2017, March 14). Why the U.S. women’s hockey team is boycotting the world championships. Sportsnet, Retrieved from http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/u-s-womens-hockey-team-boycotting-world-championships/

Spencer, D. (2017, March 15). U.S. women’s hockey team threatens boycott over wages. CBC. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/winter/us-women-hockey-threaten-boycott-wages-1.4025895

Waldron, T. (2017, March 15). U.S. women’s hockey team will boycott World Championship tournament over fair pay. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/women-hockey-team-fair-pay_us_58c94af7e4b09e52f55503a2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 responses

  1. I strongly agree with you that there is a major gap related to pay equity based on gender in professional sport. This is evident in hockey and in many other sports world wide. As a female athlete, it is upsetting to witness these high amounts of money being contributed to male sport and the lack that women’s sport is receiving. Elite women should not have to have another job on top of training, competing and potentially raising a family just to be able to pay the bills. It is disgusting to know that most elite male athletes will never have to work another day in their lives with the amount of money they are making. How are females supposed to succeed when the funding and support isn’t available? I agree that young women are lacking role models compared to young male athletes. This is likely affecting the number of girls that dream of being a professional athlete and diminishing their hopes to be successful. Young male athletes have so many successful individuals to look up to and help motivate them. I believe that most people agree that opportunity is present for women to participate in sport and that this is continuously improving. However, I believe that funding, sponsorships, media attention and support are also very important on top of opportunity to create successful female athletes. I believe that we all have a duty to contribute to change after being educated now on gender constraints and the inequality that exists between men and women in sport. As discussed in class, we need to start spectating and promoting more female recreation and sporting events and encouraging others to do the same. Greater attendance will increase recognition of female athletes which in turn will likely bring more attention and funding to female sports and programs. It will be interesting to see if the boycotting strategy will be successful for the women’s hockey team. I think action is important to push for change, however I am not sure if boycotting will be the most successful way to reach desired end goals.

    Rachel B

  2. Great post! The US women’s hockey team is actually really successful. This team consistently finishes on the podium in the Olympics; they are a good hockey team. They have won the last three consecutive world championship titles and for hockey USA to show this lack of support is just gross. This might have been acceptable in the past but the growth of female hockey over the last decade requires better. The popularity of the CWHL in Canada and the NWHL in the US show that female hockey is gaining popularity and therefore this lack of support wont cut it. This is the same case with the US women’s soccer team; they also fought for equal wages. Female sport is gaining popularity but there is still a long way to go. I think that female players on an Olympic team shouldn’t have to have a second job when they don’t expect their male counterparts to.

  3. Amazing post Marie! It grabbed my attention from the very beginning, and kept it the entire way through! It was an awesome topic.
    As a female athlete who is all about equality, I am almost disappointed in myself that I had no idea this was taking place. I think it’s crazy how the U.S. Team is boycotting World’s, and yet they are hosting in Michigan!!! It’s crazy to think, but it sends a huge message! I was talking to some of my friends about the boycotting, because I was fired up about the story, and learned that (apparently) the Men’s team is also boycotting the tournament in solidarity. Although I’m not sure how truthful that statement is, I really hope it is correct. How awesome would it be that BOTH genders were taking a stand for equality – despite the fact the Men’s team has nothing to gain, other than doing the right thing, from their involvement.
    The facts about funding additionally blew my mind. It’s hard to believe that a team that is supposed to be representing their country is funded so little! $1000 compared to $3.2 million? Like… WHAT? How do they expect them to compete and perform at the same level as the men/other female teams if they don’t have the resources to do so? Like Marie said, many of these athletes have to work other jobs to support themselves, as their hockey pay is so slim/close to none. I’m sure the argument goes something like this ‘Once they start performing and placing well, there will be funding’ – however, how do they expect them to do so if the women aren’t given the opportunity in the first place? Imagine how well their team could be doing if they PURELY focused on the sport at hand, rather than maintaining another occupation. I like what Canada is doing with the ‘Own the Podium”! I think it’s super neat, and a nod in the right direction.
    I have experienced a ton of inequality inside of the sporting world as an amateur athlete. Whether it be traveling means/accommodations, uniforms, team gear or game times, the boys always seem to have the better deal. I can’t imagine being a good enough athlete to represent my country, at say the Olympics or World’s, and still be looked as less than with funding leading up to the competition and pay… STRICTLY based off of my gender. I admire the team for standing for themselves as athletes, as well as women.
    Again, great post! Awesome read!

    Kelsie P.

  4. Hi Marie! First of all congratulations on a great post! I found it to be a really interesting read and especially pertinent given what is going on, on our very own campus in respect to the UNB women’s hockey team! The idealist part of me, really wants to believe that the majority of North America would have achieved equal pay at this day in age. However, the realist part of me says that, of course, pay discrimination is still alive and well. This is just a reminder that although we have come so far in terms of gender equality, there is still so much work to be done. In specificity to your post, I think that you give excellent representation to how women face not only financial barriers to participating in sport but also general accessibility. As you mentioned, there is an overall lack of both competitive and recreational teams for women to access if they are not a professional athlete. I’m looking forward to seeing how further women’s movements, like the US Women’s Hockey team boycott, can progress gender equality especially within a sports context.

  5. Great post Marie! As heartbreaking as it is for me to see the USA women’s team boycotting the World Hockey Championships, I am also proud and impressed. They are setting an example for other female athletes. For me, I would say this may just be the beginning. It is unfair for professional male athletes to be making millions of dollars, and professional female athletes barely making a fraction of that. I believe that this boycott will spread not only in the athletic world, but also throughout the general public. Someone who is not an athlete may not understand the issues within sports, in regards to female athletes, and this may start getting the public intrigued and more involved in this issue.

    I hope that this is just the beginning, and even though women’s sports may suffer for a short amount of time, that this will help for changes. Women deserve equality within every aspect of society, if we are not providing that in sport, then how are we going to provide that in the rest of society? What kind of message is that showing?

    Again, great post!
    -Danielle H

  6. Great post Marie! As bad as this is i believe the US women’s hockey team Boycotting and standing for what they believe in was a must. Like any great change in our society it always started with someone, whether it was an individual or a group it sets precedent for all other women’s sports and teams that they do deserve to be treated equally and although there has been growth in this area the issue around money and pay has always been pushed aside. Recently there has been major strides for women’s sports especially with women’s hockey now having professional leagues in the US and Canada it is pushing for equality, but do you think that they are paid anywhere close to that of their counterparts in the NHL most likely not and although that has a lot to do with popularity, viewers, merchandise sales, etc you can only justify it so much because of those. On the positive side things are getting better and all we can do is keep pushing towards that!

    James

  7. Awesome post Marie! I have also been following the US women’s team boycotting movement. I think the fact that it surprised everyone, speaks for itself. Women have been facing injustices for so long in sport and for a team to come together and stand up for their rights is really awesome. The athletic pay gap in female and male athletes is outrageous and something sport organizations should really consider. I recognize that female sport receive less attention and therefore there is a discrepancy in pay but personally I think that male athletes are far over paid. I know the US women’s soccer has also been demanding equal pay but have not gone as far as boycotting. This is a huge risk for the US women’s hockey team but as of March 28, this risk has paid off for the team as they have come to agreement. I believe that the US women’s team is make history and I predict that more teams are going to follow their lead in demanding equal pay.

    Amanda

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