U.S. women’s hockey reaches unprecedented deal

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson celebrates a goal with teammate Alex Carpenter in the 2016 World Championships. The team recently reached an agreement regarding wages with USA Hockey on March 28.(Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

By Bry McDermott | Asst. Photo Editor

“Well behaved women seldom make history.” This Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote perfectly sums up the feeling of the U.S. women’s national ice hockey team as it announced on March 28 that it had reached an agreement with USA Hockey for a new contract. The agreement averted a boycott and sent the team to the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship, where the U.S. women’s team seeks its fourth-consecutive gold medal.

The financial aspect of the four-year contract will be kept between the players and organization; however, ESPN reported that sources claimed that once the new contract kicks in, players will have the opportunity to make six figures based on their performance.

For the first time ever, the women will also receive the same insurance coverage and travel arrangements as the men.

Most importantly, the athletes and USA Hockey are forming a committee to help with marketing, scheduling and public relations efforts that will promote the women’s team. USA Hockey will also add a foundation position devoted to improving fundraising and overall efforts to assist female development programs.

Like most hockey fans, I felt so much joy when I saw the announcement, but as I scrolled through social media, I had to shake my head. Among the flurry of excitement were an abundance of posts thanking USA Hockey for striking up a deal with the women’s team. But why?

The praise should not be extended to the federation, which treated the women’s team as a second thought for over the past two decades. Rather, it belongs solely to the ladies who were brave enough to stand up and fight for equality.

It’s safe to presume that if the women’s team never spoke out and threatened to boycott a major tournament, USA Hockey would have never sought any improvements.

The issue of the women’s team fighting for equal support and livable wages caught fire in the last month due to the boycott threat; however, the contract negotiations have been a 15-month endeavor for these two parties.

USA Hockey held out on giving the women a fair deal for 15 months, waiting until there were just three days before the start of the IIHF World Championship to complete a contract.

In a way, USA Hockey was backed into a corner and forced to make a deal.

At first, the federation claimed that it would field a competitive team regardless of the boycott’s outcome. This immediately backfired, as female hockey players across the country — at all levels of competition — took a stand with the national team in refusing to participate in the tournament.

The situation turned into either negotiating with the women’s team or taking a squad of inexperienced players — most likely high school athletes — to an international tournament, where they’d be asked to defend a gold medal against the best in the world.

This victory stems from the hard work of the women who realized the power they had as athletes.

Captain Meghan Duggan told ESPN that she called every single player on the roster so that they could decide together that if an agreement wasn’t made, they would refuse to participate in the World Championship.

In return, support piled in — not just from female hockey players, but from fans and athletes across the NHL, NBA and MLB.

Currently, the women’s team is dominating the World Championship, outscoring opponents 14-3 as they steamroll toward another appearance in the gold medal game on Friday.

The wonderful display of athleticism the U.S. women are showcasing at the World Championship may be the start of a new era for female ice hockey in America.

A generation of girls are going to rise up as a result of this accomplishment, ready to take on the world on and off the ice.

This is because the women took it upon themselves to make sure USA Hockey had no other real choice than to do what’s right, not because USA Hockey took the initiative to give these ladies what they deserve.

Thank you to the women who decided they were no longer going to allow themselves and future generations to be treated as “less than.”

Because of YOU, the future of the sport is brighter than ever.

YOU fought for equality, and YOU won.

Thank YOU.

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