fair wages and equitable support
March 16, 2017 8:52 AM   Subscribe

"The U.S. Women's National Hockey Team — the reigning world champions — won't be defending their title this year. They announced Wednesday that they will be boycotting the championships later this month as a protest against USA Hockey, citing stalled negotiations for "fair wages and equitable support" from the organization."

Twenty-one players tweeted a statement announcing the boycott yesterday along with the hashtag #BeBoldForChange. In the words of star forward Hilary Knight, "Good luck getting a suitable No. 1 competition to represent our country on a world stage. I kind of dare them."
posted by everybody had matching towels (87 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
From the first link (NPR):
The players are asking for higher wages — pointing out that in the past, USA Hockey paid them $1,000 a month for six months every Olympic cycle, and "virtually nothing" for the other 3 1/2 years. That works out to $1,500 a year.

Forward Meghan Duggan says it's not fair for USA Hockey to pay them for only six months every four years when they train full time. "It's 365 days a year to be an Olympic athlete," she says. "It's our life, our everything."

The players do receive year-round support directly from the U.S. Olympic Committee — without which, Duggan says, "there would be no financial survival at all."

Approximately half of the national team players hold "second or third jobs," according to a press release from the lawyers representing the team.

Players on the men's national team can also play on the NHL — where the minimum salary is more than half a million dollars. The NWHL, meanwhile, recently slashed its salaries, which were $10,000-$26,000 before the pay reduction.
Sadly, they're in good company: Players on the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team are still fighting the U.S. Soccer Federation over wages and treatment they say are not commensurate with their male counterparts, despite being  the best in the world, with three World Cup championships and four Olympic championships. The men “get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”
posted by filthy light thief at 9:23 AM on March 16, 2017 [13 favorites]


If the men were decent they'd boycott too.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:27 AM on March 16, 2017 [39 favorites]


Players on the men's national team can also play on the NHL — where the minimum salary is more than half a million dollars. The NWHL, meanwhile, recently slashed its salaries, which were $10,000-$26,000 before the pay reduction.


Fuuuuuck. I support them! Good on 'em, they're basically busting their ass to be the best the world has to offer, and they're getting nothing in return. It's absolute, utter fucking bull shit. Literal shit.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:27 AM on March 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


Is there more information about how they're treated differently by USA hockey than the men? As far as I know, USA hockey is not involved in the NHL or NWHL?
posted by gyc at 9:35 AM on March 16, 2017


USA Hockey is not involved in the NHL or NWHL, correct. But the point is that the men have this option that both pays extremely well and keeps them in game shape. The women don't. Pretty much any man who will ever be selected to the national team will earn at least $500,000 in any given year. The NWHL pays pretty lousy, and there are only a handful of teams. If you're a female hockey player, you just don't have very many options. Even though you're a world-class hockey player, you might not actually be a professional hockey player. You probably work at Home Depot or one of those other companies that advertise during the Olympics about how they employ athletes, and play hockey in your free time. You are, in other words, a more talented version of me. That's not a very good way to field a competitive team, and, as noted in the article, it's not really fair to force these players to structure their lives around something they're not getting paid for. If there were a realistic alternative, maybe this wouldn't be necessary. But there's not, and so I think it's fair to ask USA Hockey to chip in.

Side note: Alex Rigsby, the goalie in the photo that leads the article, has a few cousins that I used to work with. They're a nice family.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:48 AM on March 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


Sadly. the economics of the sports plays the role here. All sports are not equal. The women's hockey team as far as interested eyes are concerned is on par with say, archery. Very few people watch it and have no stake in furthering the sport. The women's team, while being world-class...is simply not anywhere near the level of play as other sports. There is where the funding just stops. No one watches it. The women's hockey team practices against not other high level teams but against "small" high school boys teams. The level of play is just not there.
posted by shockingbluamp at 10:01 AM on March 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


This is a brave move and i applaud these women. i also agree that the men should join the boycott.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:02 AM on March 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


Very few people watch it and have no stake in furthering the sport.

You realize that a huge part of their complaint is that USA Hockey has shown no particular interest in changing that by, for instance investing in promotion of women's hockey, right?
posted by Etrigan at 10:04 AM on March 16, 2017 [45 favorites]


my family is following this closely! My husband loves women's hockey, and I love collective action.
posted by rebent at 10:05 AM on March 16, 2017 [12 favorites]


Sadly. the economics of the sports plays the role here

That is not in any way independent from the economics of sexism. Women's sports don't get anywhere near the same levels of investment or support at any point in the pipeline because of sexism, and then when people aren't interested in it -- again, often because of sexism! -- people just shrug and wash their hands of it as though it were somehow fated to be that way.

No. Women get shit on all the way up, and then at the top they're told they're getting shit on because they're already covered in shit. It's circular, victim blaming logic. Stop it.

The cycle has to stop somewhere. Here is as good a place as any.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:12 AM on March 16, 2017 [80 favorites]


That's brave, good for them.
posted by grobstein at 10:14 AM on March 16, 2017


I use any opportunity that I have to trumpet the sport the I love: Ultimate (frisbee), which is addressing gender equity as a core value in the sport.

Gender disparities in sport are rooted deeply in societal paradigms, and have to be dismantled at every level to be successfully overcome.

Girls and women have to be given equal encouragement, resources, exposure and opportunities from the ground up, but also need that same commitment at the highest levels or nothing will change (if you have trouble with definitions of equity and equality in sport, the link i provided above provides some clarity).
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:20 AM on March 16, 2017 [5 favorites]


shockingbluamp: It’s possible this is true for hockey, but I don’t believe it’s true for the US women’s football team. Last time this came up, my understanding was the the women’s football team were better than the men’s on every possible metric you care to name: they performed better in matches, they attracted larger crowds who paid more and they got higher ratings on TV (IIRC). Regardless, the men got more money, because clearly they were more important than the women. (/s in case that wasn’t obvious)
posted by pharm at 10:37 AM on March 16, 2017 [10 favorites]


I support this. There are a lot of people invested in woman's hockey. Maybe because I'm Canadian but Olympic woman's hockey is just as popular as the men's. I want the girls in America to get the same experience my niece has. She was told last year by a parent that she shouldn't be playing with the boys. She already feels down because she knows there is a lack of a future in hockey for her but most important to her is that other woman hockey players help her now at 12 stand up to sexism.
She wrote a letter to the local paper about how wrong it was for the parent to say that and girls belong in hockey. It apparently got sent around various groups and she not only had other little girls writing her telling her she can play with her anytime she is in her town and had an Olympic 3x gold medalist in the women's team send her a video of support and encouragement.

If USA hockey doesn't pay these women enough not to need 3 jobs then this statement is another way girls can be shown that this sport is for them and that it is important to stand up when unfairness happens under sexism. And maybe give strength to little girls who don't want to be regulated to ice skating which was the only option when I was growing up for winter sports.
posted by kanata at 10:45 AM on March 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


Is this one of those things where the US is just super bad at something compared to other similarly developed nations (a la healthcare or *too many things to list here*) or is this common or the same in other countries with professional sports leagues as well? Not trying to drive a wedge or work an angle here, by the way, just curious.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:14 AM on March 16, 2017


While I am sympathetic to their cause and whole-heartedly agree they are getting screwed in this situation, I can't help but think the answer is not to pay the women more, but to disallow NHL players from the Olympic team.

I know it's an old-fashioned viewpoint in the days of "Dream teams" and Wimbledon winners at the Olympics but the financial disparity between between men's and women's pro sports is so huge, I don't think it can be overcome any other way.
posted by madajb at 11:26 AM on March 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


NHL players were disallowed until recently. That route presents its own problems.
posted by Justinian at 11:33 AM on March 16, 2017


The NHL is currently not likely to go to the next Olympics (they are trying to force concessions out of the NHLPA to allow them players to go, and the NHLPA is disinclined to pay the owners for the right to promote hockey.) So you may get your wish.
posted by tavella at 11:33 AM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


Huh? I am baffled by the idea that banning NHL players would lead to increased salaries for women players.

What it would do is ensure Russia wins every men's hockey gold medal.
posted by Cosine at 11:36 AM on March 16, 2017


> Sadly. the economics of the sports plays the role here. All sports are not equal. The women's hockey team as far as interested eyes are concerned is on par with say, archery. Very few people watch it and have no stake in furthering the sport.

> You realize that a huge part of their complaint is that USA Hockey has shown no particular interest in changing that by, for instance investing in promotion of women's hockey, right?

Again looking to soccer as a parallel, (male, most likely) fans point to the fact that viewership of women's matches get about a 3rd as much as mens to support all sorts of discrimination in funding and pay, but that doesn't look at 1) age of the clubs (men have had pro teams for how much longer than women), 2) growth rates of viewership, or 3) the investment into promoting men's matches vs women's, disregarding the significant player pay gap.

If these numbers are close to 1:1, then you could try to make a case that this isn't sexism. But they aren't equal at any level, so of course viewership now won't match.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:40 AM on March 16, 2017 [3 favorites]




It's been a while since I looked at this situation, but the league wages are much less concerning than the pittance USA Hockey pays to what are essentially world class athletes.
The league likely can't afford more than that because from what I recall the initial interest fizzled out quick (to be honest, the moment I see a lot of comments going "I hate sport_x, but I'll watch womens' sport_x" I don't expect them to be interested for long). That doesn't mean USAHockey shouldn't at least try to step in and provide an incentive to keep the best players in the game after their college career is over. The level of play isn't going to magically improve if they're taking out practice time for a second or third job; the CSKA teams of the past were a well-oiled juggernaut because as "amateurs" they likely practiced more and better than any NHL pro player of their time (the Red Army documentary is a very interesting look of what happens when resources are put into something with a goal in mind).
This might be the socialist bones in me speaking, but if someone brings international glory to their country in sports, they at least deserve a living wage from that. If USAHockey can't provide that, they should really reconsider their mission.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:43 AM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'll say here what I say about Women's Soccer here in the US: it's 100% bullshit that some of the best players of the sport IN THE WORLD are treated with the same level of respect as a high school team. Here in Seattle, the facilities for the Reign are atrocious and often dangerously under maintained. The Reign play in a football stadium built for high schoolers back in the 1940s. That would be unimaginable in the MLS.

These women deserve better, and I admire their bravery for walking away, an extremely difficult decision I'm sure.
posted by gc at 11:48 AM on March 16, 2017 [6 favorites]


If the United States wants a women's national team, I don't think it's unreasonable that they pay for it.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:57 AM on March 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


What it would do is ensure Russia wins every men's hockey gold medal.

Not necessarily. Most of the best Russian players are in the NHL these days. The KHL tends to have the ones not good enough to get drafted, or older greats returning home. They'd still be formidable, but I suspect the teams that would get truly screwed are some of the Nordic teams, as their talent pool is smaller and missing their NHL players is a bigger hit.

On the other hand, some players have said they are going to the Olympics whether or not the NHL shuts down for the two weeks or not, and at least one owner (Ted Leonsis, one of the rare examples of a non-asshole major sports owner) has said he will support the choice of the players on his team that do that.
posted by tavella at 11:59 AM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


The caliber of Russian players in the KHL is still much higher than any other country's non-NHL players.

I support the women on this and really want them to be able to be paid for what they love to do... but... isn't sport something where salaries are paid by fan interest, if fans aren't interested then you don't get paid. The best curlers in the world have day jobs, as would dozens of other lower profile sports. How is this different?
posted by Cosine at 12:05 PM on March 16, 2017


"The caliber of Russian players in the KHL is still much higher than any other country's non-NHL players."

Absolutely. But if the IOC/IIHF banned NHL players from participating, wouldn't they also ban KHL players? This isn't like the old days, where the Communist bloc could skirt rules against professionalism by drafting players into the army and then assigning them the army team. The KHL is a pro league just like the NHL, and so if you're banning NHL players, you'd have to ban KHL ones as well. The resulting system would privilege countries with strong youth programs, which, right now, is Finland. If you banned NHL players but allowed KHL ones to participate, that's a transparent attempt to tilt the competition in Russia's favor.

But that's neither here nor there in terms of women's hockey.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:16 PM on March 16, 2017


How is this different?

Because the organization isn't called "USA Men's Hockey". If they want to claim that "USA Hockey provides the foundation for the sport of ice hockey in America; helps young people become leaders, even Olympic heroes; and connects the game at every level while promoting a lifelong love of the sport.", then they need to take that shit seriously for women's hockey too. In fact, the existence of an independent men's hockey league should mean that USA Hockey needs to emphasize boys' hockey less, because the NHL does that already.
posted by Etrigan at 12:18 PM on March 16, 2017 [15 favorites]


The best curlers in the world have day jobs, as would dozens of other lower profile sports. How is this different?

FTA: The players are asking for higher wages — pointing out that in the past, USA Hockey paid them $1,000 a month for six months every Olympic cycle, and "virtually nothing" for the other 3 1/2 years. That works out to $1,500 a year. Forward Meghan Duggan says it's not fair for USA Hockey to pay them for only six months every four years when they train full time. "It's 365 days a year to be an Olympic athlete," she says. "It's our life, our everything." The players do receive year-round support directly from the U.S. Olympic Committee — without which, Duggan says, "there would be no financial survival at all." Approximately half of the national team players hold "second or third jobs," according to a press release from the lawyers representing the team. Players on the men's national team can also play on the NHL — where the minimum salary is more than half a million dollars. The NWHL, meanwhile, recently slashed its salaries, which were $10,000-$26,000 before the pay reduction.

Shorter version: they're expected to train full-time, and about half of them *do* have additional jobs.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 12:19 PM on March 16, 2017


.....also, extrapolating from that, if USA Hockey was investing in the women's side of the sport, that would probably provide more jobs for them. A lot of their second or third jobs are as coaches.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 12:21 PM on March 16, 2017


The statement announcing the boycott suggests that what USA Hockey is doing is illegal, because it violates the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act. In q quick review of the law, I wasn't sure what provision they are referencing. Is there anyone who knows more specifically why the athletes claim USA Hockey isn't meeting the requirements of the law (which, if I understand it correctly, created and regulates the sporting bodies that maintain and select US Olympic teams in all the sports in the Games)?
posted by layceepee at 12:25 PM on March 16, 2017


But if the IOC/IIHF banned NHL players from participating, wouldn't they also ban KHL players
The issue is not of professional players as it used to. It's the NHL not being interested in a two-week break in February, and subsidizing the players (including insurance demanded by NHL) costs the IOC and the IIHF a pretty penny. If the NHL drops out over this while the KHL says they're fine with their players going on their club teams' own risk, stopping the league calendars or not, no reason they should also be banned.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:36 PM on March 16, 2017


The Hockey News also has a nice article.

Also, from this TSN article:
Canada, the world's other women's hockey powerhouse, puts more money into the sport in part because of government funding. Hockey Canada general manager of women's programs Melody Davidson said development players receive $900 a month and senior-level players $1,500 a month even outside Olympic years and that players are supported full-time for nine months around the Olympics.
Which is still nowhere near enough in my books, but it's a lot better than the effective $1500/year the US women get.

It's worth pointing out this may be the strongest leverage the women have; the championship is in the US for the last time until at least 2021, it's in suburban Detroit, and there's probably lots of ticket interest both locally and from southern Ontario hockey fans eager for the (presumptive) two US-Canada games, which for my money is the best rivalry in sports today. The opening round US-CAN game is $25 a ticket; the other round robin games are $15 if they involve either US or Canada, $10 otherwise.

Pretty much any man who will ever be selected to the national team will earn at least $500,000 in any given year.
Low by an order of magnitude. The average salary of a US player in the 2016 World Cup is $5,100,000 and it's only that low because there was half a team of US under-23 players, many of whom are currently making the rookie maximum $925,000 salary but all of whom will re-sign in the five million range within a couple of years.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:58 PM on March 16, 2017


I think definitely women's hockey should get more support, however it's not clear to me exactly how this is sexist. It seems as though USA Hockey pays women roughly the same as men--I'm basing this assumption on the reporting, all of which mentions payments from USA Hockey to women, but not at all to men, and everyone says it's not fair cause the men make millions in the NHL.

It *isn't* fair that women have such a hard time becoming professional athletes. It is totally unreasonable to expect women to have second jobs while still maintaining a 4-year-round training program. Laying this issue solely at the feet of USA Hockey seems mistaken to me, at least insofar as it comes to wages. USA Hockey is not aiming at being a hockey player employer.

The problem is women's hockey, even in Canada where I'm from and which has amazing support for women's hockey, is not very popular, thus there are far fewer advertising dollars, and far fewer options for women to support themselves through hockey. Similar to the WNBA, in which there was a salary CAP per-player of $120k, with the vast majority making basically middle-class median American income for being the absolute best women in the world at basketball.

I think this issue is very interesting and worthy of deep analysis, and it's not clear to me that leaping to "SEXISM!" is useful. It is quite possible that sexism is the main driver of the pay gap in this case, and quite possible that it's also the reason for all pro-sports wage gaps. However, it's not enough to just scream SEXISM, we should precisely identify what actors are behaving in a sexist manner, otherwise we won't be able to address the issue properly.

e.g., perhaps it is USA Hockey that is deeply sexist. But (again, assuming, but likely true) if USA Hockey pays male olympians the same as women's, then perhaps what's sexist is that they do not promote women's sports enough. Fix the 'pipeline problem', get more people interested in women's hockey, help WNHL create and grow a huge audience allowing them to support hopefully paid-like-ballers amazing female hockey players.

However, it seems pretty clear to me that for mainstream sports, hell, maybe almost all sports, that it may never be the case that women's wages and support just never, ever reach that of men, or maybe even never come close. And it's not necessarily because the entire world is sexist.

But here's the problem as I see it: Men are far, far superior at sports than women, by basically any metric. Searching around it seems like the only sports where women regularly beat men are bowling and horse sports (do you know others? please lemme know!). So for almost every single sport out there, if you globally ranked all the best players, it is plausible that the first 1000 or 10000 people in the list would be men.

Now, of course it's *possible* that this is *solely* caused by sexism. At least in some small part it is for sure: Fewer women are pushed into sports at an early age, fewer school and after-school programs exist for women in sports than for men, etc. etc. We should strive for equality here (I actively volunteer at an otherwise-unstaffed women's shinny, for e.g. of things we can do).

However, I'm a realist. Sports are an entertainment product. People voluntarily spend entertainment dollars and the reasons they have for electing one product over another are very complicated. But a strong motivating factor in pretty much everyone's sports entertainment purchases and attention is driven by seeing "the best".

I love women's hockey. I hang out with upcoming Canadian women's hockey players. I have family members that are in the top league for their age bracket (high school). I watch their games and I see the games of their similarly-aged male counterparts.

Comparing the two, it's no contest whatsoever. The men are faster, more aggressive. Faster and more aggressive means more exciting, means easier sales, means men will possibly forever have a huge advantage, and there will likely be inequitable outcomes for men and women in sports. Women should *definitely* get better treatment than the status quo, and the present situation is absurd. But the inequity between professional athletes may be a problem that is not possible to fix without horrible repercussions.
posted by ugly at 1:07 PM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


(Sorry for double-posting, but just wanted to say, I'm a huge fan of the boycott. Fuck yea. But my fandom is based on class struggle, not gender struggle.)
posted by ugly at 1:11 PM on March 16, 2017


Maybe instead of multiparagraph whataboutism, read the comments that already cite the information you claim no one is providing.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:19 PM on March 16, 2017 [8 favorites]


zombieflanders: Nowhere in these comments that I have read says what men are paid by USA Hockey.

I may be blind. Can you point it out to me?
posted by ugly at 1:21 PM on March 16, 2017


"Low by an order of magnitude. The average salary of a US player in the 2016 World Cup is $5,100,000..."

I'm referring to the universe of potential national team selections, not just actual ones. So, like, Connor Hellebuyck played in the World Championships a couple years ago while still in the AHL, and Yan Stastny played in a World Championships when he played in the German league. The point being that even guys who are only fringe international players, who only get selected if 50 other guys decline, are still making quite a bit of money.

"If the NHL drops out over this while the KHL says they're fine with their players going on their club teams' own risk, stopping the league calendars or not, no reason they should also be banned."

My comment was specifically in response to a previous comment by madajb, who suggested "disallowing" NHL players. Obviously if one league just declines to participate, that's their own problem, but when you start talking about prohibiting players from one league from playing, that's a different story.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:27 PM on March 16, 2017


You could read the first link in the FPP for starters.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:27 PM on March 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


Also, treating gender and class struggles as largely separate instead of tightly bound to each other is exactly the kind of sexist brogressive BS that does far more to contribute to the problem than fixing it.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:30 PM on March 16, 2017 [13 favorites]


I don't see men's pay information either, zombieflanders. Would you mind quoting it?
posted by parallellines at 1:32 PM on March 16, 2017


From the NPR piece:
players on the men's national team can also play on the NHL — where the minimum salary is more than half a million dollars. The NWHL, meanwhile, recently slashed its salaries, which were $10,000-$26,000 before the pay reduction.

In short, there's "no apples to apples comparison" between the financial positions of the male and female Olympic teams, says John Langel, a lawyer representing the women's team.

But their protest extends beyond paychecks. The women say there are pervasive, possibly illegal inequities in how USA Hockey treats male and female players — in terms of equipment, meals, hotel accommodations, staffing, marketing and PR, among other things.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:36 PM on March 16, 2017


I think this is actually the most damning part:
"At the younger levels, USA Hockey spends approximately $3.5 million annually to support a schedule of more than 60 games a season for boys participating in its National Team Development Program. There are no comparable development opportunities for girls, and the Women's National Team plays only nine games in non-Olympic years. Over the course of its yearlong negotiations, the players have made repeated requests of USA Hockey for increased playing opportunities and financial support consistent with the boys' teams."
Boys development programs, which I would assume bring in very little revenue, are still being funded at a massively higher level than even the top level women's program. USA Hockey doesn't even seem to be trying to build up a better gender distribution at the youth level, which at least soccer seems to do a better job of.
posted by parallellines at 1:40 PM on March 16, 2017 [15 favorites]


That salary info is from professional leagues, USA Hockey is a separate entity.
posted by parallellines at 1:42 PM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


It would be great if the US players in the NHL created a foundation with a part of their salaries to support the women's US team (for solidarity, for the promotion of hockey everywhere being beneficial to the NHL and thus their salaries).
posted by kokaku at 2:01 PM on March 16, 2017 [3 favorites]


Essentially no one thinks that USA Hockey should start paying salaries to the men's team, because they are all highly-paid professionals as it stands. At this point, they're not even league-minimum salary guys, they're millionaires, often several times over. This is not an opportunity that exists for any woman playing hockey anywhere in the world thanks to misogyny and the generally crappy way our society treats women and girls in athletic pursuits. USA Hockey also expects the women on the national hockey team to train and practice at a professional level year-round, but to do so for $1,500/year. If USA Hockey is going to demand medal-winning performances and promote the team heavily in their own materials, they can find the wherewithal to fund the team appropriately to their expectations.

USA Hockey had a budget of around $40 million last year, and the cost to give 30 or 40 women a salary of $50,000/year (still grossly unfair but at least livable) would be under $2 million. They could find a way to do that if they cared to. Whether this is fair to the men's team on some abstract level because they're also missing out on what, to the men, would be a minuscule amount of money, is pretty much irrelevant. There are more important goals than maintaining the appearance of fairness between millionaires and people looking at picking up a third job to afford rink time.
posted by Copronymus at 3:07 PM on March 16, 2017 [10 favorites]


Who gives a shit what the men are paid? It's a useless derail. Call it $5. Call it $500k.

The issue is that the womens program isn't getting the same support as the mens from the agency that exists to support both.

>But here's the problem as I see it: Men are far, far superior at sports than women, by basically any metric.

So, what? They can't run fast enough to make a government agency equitably distribute resources? Is that what you are saying?
posted by anti social order at 3:38 PM on March 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


parallellines, I saw a link from a reddit discussion about the NTDP which claims that that money actually comes from the NHL for that specific purpose, and discusses whether a womens NTDP is a feasible/good idea.

I could not find any exactly dollar amount, but on USA Hockey's financial report (the 2016) one, there is this specific wording in note O:
The National Hockey League support is based on past
performance and specific objectives. A significant portion
of their funding is intended to provide budget relief for
existing costs associated with the national team development
program and junior officiating development program.
(And they received 9 million dollars from the NHL.)
posted by The arrows are too fast at 4:07 PM on March 16, 2017


I don't think the earmarking of funds from the NHL is a valid excuse. You don't get to accept funding that is expressly discriminatory in intent and effect without being complicit. The NHL has plenty of money to fund girls programs equally if USA hockey were to make that a condition of running boys programs. And the structure of the program doesn't have to be identical, I'm sure effective programs could be figured out if the funding and support was there.
posted by parallellines at 5:20 PM on March 16, 2017


"So, what? They can't run fast enough to make a government agency equitably distribute resources? Is that what you are saying?"

The issue being raised is specifically USA Hockey not paying women a real wage. But they don't pay men either.

My point was the men dont need the pay cause they can make enough in their pro leagues. But since women's​ hockey isn't popular enough to support a large pro league with good pay, people are claiming USA Hockey is sexist for not paying them more. That doesn't follow.

Further, it's quite likely that no matter what we do women's hockey will never be able to support a large pro league to support the Olympians. And it's not sexist to prefer watching male sports, so it's not clear what the actual sexism is.
posted by ugly at 5:34 PM on March 16, 2017


> And it's not sexist to prefer watching male sports, so it's not clear what the actual sexism is.

Why's that?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:00 PM on March 16, 2017 [9 favorites]


That seems like an easy one? The level of play is higher.
posted by Justinian at 7:55 PM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


In almost all sports the Men's team is essentially the open division. Some sports are arranged this way (IE: explicit open divisions where anyone of either sex can play) and the top athletes in those divisions are essentially always men.

And it doesn't matter which sport the open division, explicit or implicit, makes the most money. You see this really clearly in motorsport where even when different classes run the same course at the same time it's the fastest cars (say 4WD vs 2WD in WRC) that get all the press and most of the money.

And I don't see any efforts at combating sexism changing this. Men's hockey (and therefor the players) are always going to have more people willing to pay more money to see them play than female hockey. And while their is a sexism component to that to mostly because the best women's team is going to get beat by even a Mid Tier Men's team most days.

You see that even in Women's hockey as outlined by Homeboy Trouble: "The opening round US-CAN game is $25 a ticket; the other round robin games are $15 if they involve either US or Canada, $10 otherwise. " People are willing to pay 2.5x as much to see Canada-USA compared to any other match up not involving the best teams.
posted by Mitheral at 8:21 PM on March 16, 2017


And while their is a sexism component to that to mostly because the best women's team is going to get beat by even a Mid Tier Men's team most days.

A mid tier boy's high school team.
posted by Justinian at 8:55 PM on March 16, 2017


Professional athletes are being paid 1,500/year and the take is going into well maybe they're just not good enough to be paid more?

The top team in the world, not good enough for more than 1,500/year. Incredible.
posted by E. Whitehall at 9:13 PM on March 16, 2017 [12 favorites]


I don't see anyone making any claims about what the women's Olympic hockey team *should* make. I see alternative explanations to the headline.

However the above-noted curling example is relevant as well. We're ok with the world's best curlers of all genders to work at Wal Mart. People can make a living playing professional sports ONLY when the sport is popular enough to support decent wages. Women's hockey is not that popular.

Also it's a pretty lame sexism angle. There are certainly sexist parts of the existing system (I see them and personally work to change them). We should address those. However presuming that all women Olympic hockey players deserve to be able to make their entire living on hockey isn't obvious (should all gymnasts get the same deal? Bowlers? Why or why not?).
posted by ugly at 10:48 PM on March 16, 2017


I doubt most anyone here is OK with anyone representing their nation in any Olympic on the international sport having to scrounge for change. So stop swinging at strawmen. It is absolutely disgraceful for the richest nation in the history of ever not to pay people representing it at the highest level enough to live off of.
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:27 PM on March 16, 2017 [4 favorites]


Uh. I... can't agree. We (as in the government) shouldn't be paying Olympians a living wage of some sort. It's not supposed to be your job. As ugly asks, do you think we should be paying everyone at the Olympics a full salary? Lugers? Bowlers? (Which becomes official at the 2020 Olympics!) Should we pay the trampolinists a full salary? Steeplechasers? Do you know how expensive it would be to pay all these people a living wage?

So I'm not sure why we should pay hockey players a full salary either...
posted by Justinian at 11:42 PM on March 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


I realize the ideal of Olympians being amateurs has gone by the wayside. But I still regret it.
posted by Justinian at 11:44 PM on March 16, 2017 [1 favorite]


(Last one, sorry; my objection obviously only applies to official government support. AFAIK USA Hockey is a private organization and if more cash can be extracted from them via strike, more power to the workersplayers. But I read zalzidrax as calling for significantly higher official government subsidy.)
posted by Justinian at 11:48 PM on March 16, 2017


And it doesn't matter which sport the open division, explicit or implicit, makes the most money.

For most of the existence of American football, the college version was far more popular then the NFL, and virtually every pretender league you can think of since the NFL took the top spot (USFL, XFL) has had fewer restrictions on who can play.

Serena Williams will often draw a higher rating for a major tennis final than the male final in the same tournament.

A lot of people say that the Negro Leagues featured a higher level of play than Major League Baseball at the time, and it's kind of obvious why the former didn't make more money despite being the "open" system.

In MMA and boxing, the non-heavyweights are often far more popular (Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard).
posted by Etrigan at 3:11 AM on March 17, 2017 [5 favorites]


Why shouldn't we pay the Olympians a living wage? The wage could be based on the amount of year-round training that is required and reduced by the amount of outside pay that is received. Swimmers, gymnasts, hockey players, etc. where training is like having a full-time job should receive a salary and reduced by the amount of prize money won, endorsement deals, professional salary, etc. Sports that do not require as much training maybe get less (I'm thinking curling but I have no idea how much they practice).

Wouldn't offering a salary make it easier for the best people to actually participate? I have to think there are probably some very skilled athletes that do not participate in the Olympics because they can't support themselves on no salary.


And it's not sexist to prefer watching male sports, so it's not clear what the actual sexism is.
Why?
That seems like an easy one? The level of play is higher


Um yes it is sexist. It's not sexist to want to watch the best athletes, but by assuming the best athletes are men and therefore only men are worth watching, that's totally sexist.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:07 AM on March 17, 2017 [8 favorites]


Know what I figured out during the women's World Cup? A lot of men REALLY hate watching women be better at a sport than they personally are or ever will be, but somehow they only ever complain about the "quality of play," while conveniently ignoring every possible counter argument to this, even as they watch college football or talk about Mayweather or Pacquiao (or McGregor, now).

It wouldn't have occurred to me before, but seeing it in person made it really obvious who, at the sports bar, really resented women doing anything moderately well.

Sucks to be them if they couldn't be happy for that hat trick. And there were some dudes who were really into it. But quite a lot of them looked like someone had just stolen their lunch.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:24 AM on March 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


That seems like an easy one? The level of play is higher

Jesus Christ. Why is the level of play higher? Perhaps because there is more support, more coaching, more equipment, and

"At the younger levels, USA Hockey spends approximately $3.5 million annually to support a schedule of more than 60 games a season for boys participating in its National Team Development Program. There are no comparable development opportunities for girls, and the Women's National Team plays only nine games in non-Olympic years.

Players on the men's national team can also play on the NHL

more opportunities to actually play.

FFS, equality for women doesn't have to take anything away from men. That's what seems like an "easy one".
posted by vignettist at 8:31 AM on March 17, 2017 [10 favorites]


I realize the ideal of Olympians being amateurs has gone by the wayside. But I still regret it.


This was always a load of crap in order to keep it the games a playground for the wealthy.There were countless faster and stronger athletes who were locked out because they had to make a living using those talents. Jim Thorpe had his medals stripped in a scandal because he played baseball for 2 bucks a game to make ends meet. The original equestrian event rules permitted cavalry officers to compete but forbid enlisted men because they trained the horses and were therefore professional.
posted by cmfletcher at 9:11 AM on March 17, 2017 [6 favorites]


I think the synthesis or whatever of the responses to the "why is it not sexist to prefer sports played by men" requires circling back around to the original statement. Instead of being:

> And it's not sexist to prefer watching male sports, so it's not clear what the actual sexism is.

the original statement should have been something like "there's nothing abnormally sexist preferring sports played by men over sports played by women." It's not that it's not sexist — I mean, really, it's sexist on the face of it — it's that it's such a pervasive and commonly accepted form of sexism that it blends in with the generalized misogyny that forms the background radiation of our patriarchal culture.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:54 AM on March 17, 2017 [2 favorites]


[One comment removed. ugly, quit digging in in here.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:31 AM on March 17, 2017


"At the younger levels, USA Hockey spends approximately $3.5 million annually to support a schedule of more than 60 games a season for boys participating in its National Team Development Program. There are no comparable development opportunities for girls, and the Women's National Team plays only nine games in non-Olympic years.

Players on the men's national team can also play on the NHL

more opportunities to actually play.

FFS, equality for women doesn't have to take anything away from men. That's what seems like an "easy one".
I agree totally that we should have way more support for women in all sports at every level. In hockey where I live there have been HUGE strides in this area recently due to lots of great work by folks at all levels of Canada's hockey programme.

Women should get more games, more rink time, THE SAME NUMBER OF FUCKING REFS AS THE BOYS CLUB GETS (at my club before lots of agitation, refs were even PAID LESS to ref a girls's game).

Buuuut if all y'all think that it's also a totally sexist world if we're not paying tens of millions of taxpayer dollars so something that was never considered a job (olympic athlete) can become one, that's where it seems this discussion has gone into bizarro world.
posted by ugly at 3:17 PM on March 17, 2017


"the original statement should have been something like "there's nothing abnormally sexist preferring sports played by men over sports played by women." It's not that it's not sexist — I mean, really, it's sexist on the face of it — it's that it's such a pervasive and commonly accepted form of sexism that it blends in with the generalized misogyny that forms the background radiation of our patriarchal culture."

This blatantly ignores that men are far far superior at almost every sport. NHL and NBA are open to women. There are exactly 0 women on the planet who would ever even credibly be whispered about in hushed tones as having draft potential.

Unless you think testosterone and bodyfat equilibria and ACL strength are all parts of the great patriarchy, it's ludicrous to label this sexism.
posted by ugly at 3:24 PM on March 17, 2017


I direct your attention to the comments upthread about the relative popularity of college football vs pro football, also relative popularity of heavyweight vs. non-heavyweight boxers, also relative popularity of women's tennis vs. men's tennis. You are insisting that the public both does and should prefer watching whichever team or player would beat any other team or player when put into direct competition. The explicit factual claim (the public does prefer...) is wrong, as other commenters have shown. The implicit normative claim (the public should prefer...) is weird.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 3:31 PM on March 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


"The explicit factual claim (the public does prefer...) is wrong, as other commenters have shown. The implicit normative claim (the public should prefer...) is weird."

I did not make any normative claim, or at least I didn't mean to, so you should quote me when you're making claims about what I said.

All I am saying is that it's not sexist to watch the NHL while not watching the WNHL. Are you seriously claiming I'm a sexist because I don't watch WNHL equally to NHL? I hope not.

I am simply saying many folks choose to watch the best in the world at hockey. The best in the world are white men, almost exclusively. Many folks choose to watch the best in the world at basketball. The best in the world are black men, almost exclusively (73% of the NBA roster is black). If you've ever compared WNBA and NBA or WNHL and NHL games, the difference is so stark the products are almost not comparable. Preferring to watch the best in the world is not sexist, even if the best in the world are all men.

If folks are choosing to watch not-the-best-in-the-world, that's awesome, but also it is utterly unrelated to my point.

Please stop trying to paint me as some ignorant sexist asshole. I'm just making two points:

1) Playing games should never be a guaranteed career option for anyone, no matter how great they are at their respective sports. It seems weird to be trying to convince folks on mefi of this, but nobody should ever view pro athlete as a solid careeer option. It's a huge gamble, the vast majority fail, and anyone who gets to make their living playing games should be very thankful for their historic luck. Anyone playing games saying that they DESERVE to get paid to do so, better find a sponsor because I doubt anyone would be sympathetic.

2) Choosing to watch the best entertainment products in range of options is absolutely rational and reasonable. Men are the best at hockey in the world. It's not even close. So, if you want to watch the best, you want to watch men. Just because the OUTCOME is unequal, it is not the case that sexism is the cause of it. You'd have to believe inequality of outcome is ALWAYS evidence of sexism, and that just doesn't follow.
posted by ugly at 3:52 PM on March 17, 2017


[Couple comments deleted; feel free to try again without the massively derailing hyperbole. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:39 PM on March 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


The other side of this that hasn't been addressed is the impact pro athletes have on young athletes. The vast majority of athletes out there will never make the pros. But when you've got a Crosby poster in your bedroom and you show even a modicum of skill at hockey, it's really easy for you and your parents to become fixated on hockey as a career instead of a fun game.

The 14-16 women hockey players I work with enjoy the game FAR more than the men in that age range I know. Recently a family member was pressured by not one but TWO overbearing coaches, each separately pushing him to push one of his sons (the one of three who seems preternaturally gifted) into the hockey-as-career path. He has to deal with this pressure and guilt trips (think of the wasted potential) all the time. He resists, but many parents don't. We all hear about Crosby but nobody knows about the thousands of boys whose enjoyment of the game suffered, whose free time was massively sacrificed, whose brain injury risk skyrocketed, all because they and their folks had the Crosby dream.

Meanwhile the women are enjoying the hell out of their game and talking to their guidance counsellors to see if they might be able to get a full-ride for an engineering degree or something.
posted by ugly at 5:08 PM on March 17, 2017 [1 favorite]


"your parents to become fixated on hockey as a career instead of a fun game"

I worked in a hockey store during college. Hockey equipment is very expensive, and parents were always shocked at the cost. But one guy, I'll never forget. I rang him up and said "that'll be $395.42" (or whatever), and he looked down at his kid, who was no older than ten, and said "you'll pay me back when you get to the League". This is in Columbus, Ohio, which has produced a grand total of one NHL hockey player in history, and that was in like 2014.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:43 PM on March 17, 2017 [3 favorites]


Uh. I... can't agree. We (as in the government) shouldn't be paying Olympians a living wage of some sort. It's not supposed to be your job. As ugly asks, do you think we should be paying everyone at the Olympics a full salary? Lugers? Bowlers? (Which becomes official at the 2020 Olympics!) Should we pay the trampolinists a full salary? Steeplechasers? Do you know how expensive it would be to pay all these people a living wage?

18.9 million dollars a year, which is roughly 0.0005% of US government spending. Glasmeier calculates the living wage for a single worker in metro Denver at $11.61 per hour, which is $24,148 per year. (Denver chosen as an example because while it's not a super-expensive NY/SF/DC area, it's not a particularly cheap city, and because a lot of US athletes train in Colorado due to the high elevation.) There were 554 US athletes at Rio, and 230 at Sochi. Multiply it out, and it's almost six cents per American citizen. I suppose you could keep listing unusual sports with question marks after them, but it won't change the fact that we're talking about a paltry amount of money to a small group of people.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:35 PM on March 17, 2017 [4 favorites]


In other women's hockey news, the Buffalo Beauts won the Isobel Cup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Which means that Harrison Browne is now the first openly transgender professional team sport athlete in the United States to win a national championship.

(it is also the first time a team that I care about has ever won something so I am very excited tonight)
posted by everybody had matching towels at 6:07 PM on March 19, 2017 [4 favorites]


another excellent piece from Pension Plan Puppets: Auston Matthews vs. Makenna Newkirk: The case against USA Hockey

The way that funding and support from USA Hockey currently stands, a woman from Arizona doesn’t just need to be “devoted to” hockey, or even good at it. She needs money and privilege alongside talent and drive. She needs to be Makenna Newkirk.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:01 AM on March 20, 2017 [2 favorites]


I watched the Lamoureux sisters play college hockey in Engelstad Arena the year after they played on the national team which took silver at the Olympics. It was one of the most amazing sports events I've ever watched live and I've seen multiple major league games.

I also watched the UND men's hockey team play at Engelstad that year--to be clear, we're talking about a team that goes to the Frozen Four on the regular and which would only a few years later win the national title. For god's sake, Dave Hakstol went directly from UND's coach to head coach of the Philly Flyers. It was a fantastic game and I enjoyed it...but not as much as I enjoyed the game that the women played.

So when I say I've seen good hockey and I still prefer to watch women's hockey? Fucking believe me. I have no doubt that women's hockey would have an audience if it was promoted.

I tend to think fans of women's tennis could easily become fans of women's hockey. The flowing sweeps across the ice in the passing game are a lot like volleying in tennis. The rhythm and movement definitely have similarities. Imagine what could happen in USA Hockey put money into marketing the women's team.
posted by librarylis at 5:44 PM on March 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


The future of hockey is female, so why aren’t women paid to play?

A brother and sister grew up in Wisconsin, equally in love with hockey. Both were encouraged and supported by their parents. From childhood, both devoted their early mornings, nights and weekends to endless shooting drills, skating lessons and dry land training. By the time they became teenagers, both were ranked among the best young players in the US. Both have represented their country at the Olympics and each has won a silver medal. Both currently play professional hockey.

Here’s where the fortunes of Phil and Amanda Kessel diverge: Phil, a Pittsburgh Penguin and former Toronto Maple Leaf, earns about $9 million a year, putting him near the top of the NHL pay scale. Amanda received the largest contract to date when she signed as a free agent to the NWHL’s New York Riveters last year. Her annual salary to play in the four-team women’s league? $26,000.

This doesn’t so much illustrate a pay gap as it does a canyon, an inequality that’s been highlighted by the ongoing labour negotiations between USA Hockey and the US Women’s National Hockey team (Amanda Kessel is also a forward on the national team). The players will boycott the upcoming world championships at the end of this month unless their demands are met: a $68,000 annual salary, plus childcare and maternity leave, as well as a national youth development program for girls. USA Hockey spends about $3.5 million a year on programs for boys, but has nothing similar for girls. In a public statement, team captain Meghan Duggan said, “We have represented our country with dignity and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.” The team’s stand comes after a similar fight for equal pay was launched by the US women’s soccer team last year.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:51 PM on March 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Choosing to watch the best entertainment products in range of options is absolutely rational and reasonable. Men are the best at hockey in the world. It's not even close. So, if you want to watch the best, you want to watch men. Just because the OUTCOME is unequal, it is not the case that sexism is the cause of it. You'd have to believe inequality of outcome is ALWAYS evidence of sexism, and that just doesn't follow.

Inequality of outcome, though, needs to be looked at in light of equality of opportunity. There was a time, not so long ago here in hockey-mad Canada, where girls weren't allowed to play minor hockey in any sort of league.

As a consolation prize, girls were allowed to play ringette.

Building a system of opportunity, coaching, role models/heroes, and yes, expectations, takes time. Not that I'm on the side of parents with a rabid belief their son will be the next NHL star. As others have noted, some of them are making a gamble on pretty poor probabilities.

But the reality in which girls' minor hockey, the WNHL and women's hockey as an Olympic sport are things that actually exist is a very recent reality.

So evaluating outcomes of the relative excellence of men's vs. women's hockey is an apples-to-oranges comparison if we think about it in terms of equality of opportunity. There would be a better baseline for comparison if the opportunities for women's hockey had existed for as long as those in men's hockey have.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:10 PM on March 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


So I guess my point is that the equality of opportunity for women in hockey has been super sexist for a very long time.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:13 PM on March 23, 2017 [3 favorites]




So what's the mission statement of USA Hockey? Because my impression was that their goal is to develop players to win medals in international competitions, rather than develop more professional players for the NHL. If their mission is the former, derailing into a discussion of how much people would pay or not pay to watch women's professional hockey is pretty pointless. And the fact that they make it hard for women to continue to prepare for said international competitions means that they are failing pretty damn hard at their mission.
posted by tavella at 10:54 AM on March 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Good news The U.S. women's national hockey team and USA Hockey agreed to a landmark new contract Tuesday to avert the players' boycott of the IIHF World Championships that begin Friday and significantly address the women's protests about compensation and the federation's inequitable treatment of its girls' and women's programs.

skip para ...skip para... skip para ....

The team's annual compensation, one key issue, will vastly improve to roughly $70,000 per player, a source who has seen the contract said. Toss in the newly negotiated performance bonuses USA Hockey agreed to pay the women for the first time, and the players could push their income over six figures if they win the Olympics or world championships.

posted by beaning at 7:01 PM on March 28, 2017 [5 favorites]


Hooray! Now Canada has something to beat the US at both on and off the ice. (We have most of the structural changes the US women won, but $70K, that's huge - the Canadian women get more like $20K in non-Olympic years, IIRC.) It was amazing to see all the support from the various pro player's unions, politicians and particularly the strength of the women approached by US hockey to be replacement players... imagine being in high school, getting asked to play for the national team, the pressure of dealing with the top brass, and turning that down out of sisterhood.

I also love irony of the comments about how the rational way to watch sports (a contradiction in terms already) is to watch it at the absolute highest level... in the middle of March, when the sports news and TV ratings are being dominated by a basketball tournament where 90% of the players will never play in the NBA (the actual absolute highest level of the men's sport) and maybe 1% of them will ever be stars, but even that 1% won't be stars until after a few more years of intensive training and physical growth.

I just want to post in celebration the highlights of the insane last gold medal match in Sochi... you know it's nuts when you're only 2 minutes into the 5 minute highlight video and it's already 16 minutes into the third period.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:28 PM on March 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Welp they beat the dastardly Canadians to win the gold at the IIHF World Championships just now! So it looks like everythings coming up roses.
posted by Justinian at 7:47 PM on April 7, 2017 [5 favorites]


Oh man, it was such an incredible amazing game , too! So fast! Such stick work!
posted by rebent at 9:14 PM on April 8, 2017


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