Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Mar. 16, 2017 — A third front in an inequality war

The United States Olympic Committee, and, by proxy, national governing bodies of sport, are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis when it comes to gender equity.

There’s been a silent war raged on social media when it comes to men’s field hockey, but the figures bandied about are pretty much spot on. While the women’s national team enjoys a budget of some $2.5 million, men’s field hockey receives a total budget of less than $350,000. Granted, the number of men’s members of USA Field Hockey and participant figures are dwarfed by their female counterparts, but a team of 11 is still a team 11, no matter how the team is assembled.

Since the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the disparity between men’s and women’s pay by U.S. Soccer has been revealed, and it’s just as dire a situation for the successful U.S. women. The women make only $15,000 for getting selected to a World Cup roster, while the men are awarded $50,000. For each game, the U.S. women make less than $2,000 per game if they win, while the U.S. men are paid a minimum of $5,000, win or lose.

Now, the women who represent the United States in women’s ice hockey are close to their own version of the nuclear option. Citing a stipend as low as $6,000 for making the Olympic roster, as well as the $3.5 million for a young men’s national team development program (there is nothing for young women) the U.S. women’s national hockey team said yesterday that it was considering sitting out the IIHF World Championship this year. And given the fact that tournament is being held in the United States, a strike would be of particular embarrassment to USA Hockey.

In a desperate move, USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean hit back in the media, indicating that the national governing body might hire replacement players.

That might open its own can of worms, especially if the replacement team does reasonably well. It might be an example of how the two-year-old National Women’s Hockey League stands as a player development tool, one which receives some support from USA Hockey.

But the embarrassment of having the host team strike for a living wage? I think it’s a bridge too far, and requires negotiations. Post haste.







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