The U.S. Women's National Hockey Team has announced that it'll be skipping the 2017 World Championships because of a lack of progress made by USA Hockey, the sport's governing board in America for teams of all genders, to afford the women's team members pay equal to their male peers. "It's well overdue for us to speak up about unfair treatment, even if it means sacrificing an opportunity to represent our country".
"When I was hired by the soccer players in 1998, they were paid more than the hockey players are paid today", said Langel, who represented US women's soccer players from 1998 to 2014. According to the statement released by a law firm representing the players, USA Hockey has paid players $1,000 a month during their six-month Olympic residency period and "virtually nothing" the rest of the time.
As they watch USA Hockey shell out an alleged $3.5 million annually to fund the national team development program for boys, members of the women's team said their fight for equal wages is about showing young girls who dream of playing hockey that they matter. "USA Hockey's role is not to employ athletes and we will not do so".
Team USA hockey goalie Alex Rigsby defends the goal during a practice session in Plymouth Township, Mich., in December 2016.
Earlier this month, Ashley Johnston, who plays for the NWHL team, the New York Riveters (as in Rosie the Riveter), but is not one of the championship players striking, told NPR that she and her teammates get $260 a game and nothing more.
USA Hockey responded to the team's announcement within a few hours, detailing their proposals for increased support in the form of training funds and travel/lodging stipends and insurance.
USA Hockey could not immediately be reached for comment from SB Nation. Canada beat Sweden for gold in 2006 after Sweden upset the U.S.in the semifinals.
It's not the first time a US women's team has raised the issue of unequal treatment.
"We feel like we've been pushed into a corner to have to come to this hard decision as a team", alternate captain Monique Lamoureux-Morando said.
That sum, according to USA Hockey, is in addition to a housing allowance, travel allowances, meal expenses, medical and disability insurance and the infrastructure that includes elite-level support staff to train and prepare the players.
Langel said USA Hockey has been unwilling to address the issue of pay in non-Olympic years.
The US team has been drawn in Group A, along with Canada, who they have beaten in the previous three gold medal matches, Russian Federation and Finland at the IIHF World Women's Ice Hockey Championship. It's bigger than any one sport or individual.