U.S. women's hockey team threatens to skip world championship in MI

The U.S. women's national hockey team is set to play the world championship against Canada, its archrival, on March 31st.

According to a press release from the law firm representing the team, Ballard Spahr, the team has tried for over a year to get the governing body to pay them what they consider fair wages-but nothing has changed.

The women are asking for fair wages and support and will boycott the world competition unless "significant progress" is made in negotiations with USA Hockey.

Thirteen players on the Women's World Championship roster won silver medals with the 2014 Olympic team - the Lamoureux twins, Kacey Bellamy, Megan Bozek, Warroad's Gigi Marvin, Lee Stecklein, Alex Carpenter, Kendall Coyne, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight and Kelli Stack.

The players were also critical of USA Hockey's programs for girls, saying that the federation's investments in the youth development paled in comparison to the money and support it gives to boys and men.

If you factor in Olympic bonuses, that comes to about $20,000 for four years. There are no under-17 or under-18 programs for women's hockey.

While Eruzione's comments were short, they show how much USA Hockey is fighting a losing "public relations battle" against the women here.

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".

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"The statement issued by USA Hockey today in response to our decision to sit out the World Championships is misleading". But Bellamy says there's a bottleneck that keeps women from pursuing the sport professionally.

"From one #USWNT to another, we are behind you. How can we all help?" says Abby Wambach. "We've been in contact with every player in the pool, and we have the support of all the players".

Players do get paid by the U.S. Olympic Committee. U.S. Soccer sued the women's national team in federal court past year and won a ruling that barred the team from striking ahead of last summer's Rio Olympics. They, in turn, have negotiated with USA Hockey back and forth to try and reach a settlement that both sides can agree upon, but so far nothing has come about. The soccer team, is more than a year into its negotiations for better pay. However, it's not that the women's team should have to outperform men to be worthy of equal pay and support.

There are many reasons contributing to why female athletes are often paid less.

The national team immediately issued a statement disputing USA Hockey's figures. Men's sports leagues have typically been around for longer, so have had more time to build up a fanbase. It's not just a women's hockey thing, it's a women's sports.

The Women's World Championships are scheduled to begin on March 31st in Plymouth, Michigan.

Requests for fair wages in global competition, travel accommodations and gear, and improvement in the funding for girl's hockey development were all included in the negotiations that the women's hockey team stated they were working towards. It's a whole family being united from 20 years ago until now.

  • Regina Holmes