Friday, March 17, 2017

US women's hockey team stay strong under pressure

Kudos to the U.S. women's hockey team as they don't even blink while pursuing their insistence on fair wages and support as the World Championships loom imminently.
The US women are the best and most successful hockey team in the world - sorry, Canada, but, in recent years at least, that's true - having won gold in six of the last eight world championships (including the last three), and a medal in every Olympics. And the annual IIHF Women's World Championship is the premier international competition in women's hockey.
The gutsy US women's team have selected this sensitive time to pursue a contract with USA Hockey that compensates them fairly. Currently, they are expected to train year round with only a nominal payment, except for a slightly better-paid six-month residency period in the run-up to the Olympics. Most have second, and even third, jobs to make ends meet, and even then they are expected to jet off to international games and a regular national team camp every few weeks, during which they lose those wages. They also get inequitable support for equipment, staff, meals, travel and publicity and, furthermore, they complain that the boys' National Team Development Program is much better funded than the girls' equivalent.
In protest at this inequitable and unfair treatment, they are willing to boycott the highest profile competition of the year. They have even spoken with possible replacements that USA Hockey might use in their place (such as the Under-18 and Under-22 teams, college hockey programs, and the National Women's Hockey League) and obtained their general support, to the extent that they are confident that those young players are unlikely to want to risk their potential welcomes on the national team by strike-breaking action.
USA Hockey has now upped the stakes and laid down a deadline for the women to commit to playing in the Worlds, but they remain steadfast in their determination and in their cause. Good for them!

USA Hockey blinked first in this game of chicken, and the national women's team struck a significant deal to address the inequitable treatment of girls' and women's programs in the USA.
Congratulations flooded in from little girls in small-town America, to the national men's team, to the unions representing the NHL, the NBA, the NFL and the MLB, to the US women's soccer team (which has had its own equity issues).
And, after all that, the USA faces off against Canada in the first game of the women's world hockey championship in just a couple of days, full of confidence and basking in the glow of almost universal approbation.

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