Contract Fight With U.S.A. Hockey Over, Hard Work Begins for Women’s Team
1 àïðåëÿ 2017 ãîäà. NY Times. By SETH BERKMAN
Tuesday night, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and her twin sister, Monique
Lamoureux-Morando, helped the United States women’s hockey team earn a
major victory for gender equity in sports.
The twins were leaders in the players’ 15 months of negotiations and
eventual two-week boycott that culminated in an agreement with U.S.A.
Hockey for increased pay and support.
Less than 24 hours later, they were reminded of the battles still ahead.
In college, the twins helped carry North Dakota women’s hockey program
to national prominence; on Wednesday, the university announced it was
dropping the sport.
Amid celebrations of Tuesday’s news, players recognized that their work
was incomplete. That was why a key component of the deal with U.S.A.
Hockey was the formation of the Women’s High Performance Advisory Group
to work within the governing body.
The new four-year contract for the American women’s team is similar to
an agreement the Canadian team reached with its national governing
body, Hockey Canada, almost 20 years ago. Vital to Canada’s success was
the creation of a Women’s High Performance Advisory Committee, which
acted as a players’ union in negotiations with Hockey Canada and
fostered development on the youth level.
In a statement released Tuesday, U.S.A. Hockey said its advisory group
would consist of former and current national team players, volunteers
and staff leaders who would regularly meet to assist in efforts “to
advance girls’ and women’s hockey in all areas, including programming,
marketing, promotion and fund-raising.”
“There are mentalities that need to be changed, because people aren’t
changed enough,” said Hilary Knight, a star on the American team.
Some within women’s hockey believe more action is needed from the
International Ice Hockey Federation, which holds influence over every
participating nation’s governing body.
Cammi Granato, a member of the American team that won the gold medal in
the first women’s hockey Olympic tournament in 1998, said the recent
changes enacted by U.S.A. Hockey should put pressure on the
international federation “to look within and bring up the modern-day
“If you look at that organization, there are imbalances there,” she
said. “If they do that and take the leadership role there, you might
have other countries’ federations taking a stand as well.”
The international federation did little to intervene in U.S.A. Hockey’s
dispute with its women’s team, the three-time defending world
champions. The federation released a statement on March 17 that said it
was “monitoring the situation closely.” Several players said they
learned during negotiations that the federation was pushing U.S.A.
Hockey to find replacement players to field a new team in case the
The event that the women’s team was boycotting, the federation’s world
championship, began Friday with a 2-0 victory by the United States over
Canada, and continued Saturday with the Americans’ 7-0 rout of Russia.
A major point of contention in the team’s boycott was not receiving
travel and insurance allotments similar to men’s players.
As the women fought for more equitable treatment from their national
governing body, it appeared that the federation was trying to
accommodate the demands of the N.H.L., which has been balking at
releasing its players for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South
Korea. Reuters reported Thursday that the federation had agreed to pay
for Olympic travel and insurance for N.H.L. players, which could cost
up to $20 million.
The international federation’s latest financial report said it received
just under $40 million in Olympic contributions during the 2013-14
season and more than $12 million for 2014-15. The federation did not
respond to questions about how much of the money was designated for
Players from other countries followed the U.S.A. Hockey negotiations
closely. Janine Weber, a member of the Austrian national team, said
many European women’s players shared news of the boycott on Facebook.
“I think it’s something we can all relate to and something we hope to
accomplish one day in terms of equal support from our federations,”
Weber wrote in an email, adding that more investment would help close
the performance gap between the United States and Canada and the rest
of the world in women’s hockey.
Jongah Park, a forward on South Korea’s national team, said that even
though women’s hockey was a relatively new sport in her country, her
team had begun to think about the importance of expanding the game to
the point where resources for both genders were equal.
“Even we have desire to fight for equal wages and gender equality,”
Park wrote in an email during the United States team’s boycott. “I
don’t know how to do that. But always think of equalities.”
American players hope their stance will ultimately assist women’s
hockey programs across the world, but they first are focused on
increasing diversity in U.S.A. Hockey’s leadership.
Currently, only 15 of 91 voting members of its board of directors are
women. It is the only national governing body among American Winter
Olympic sports with a board that has less than 20 percent women.
According to U.S.A. Hockey’s annual guide, the terms of 29 board
members end this year.
The importance of having strong voices on the board was clear in the contract negotiations.
Meghan Duggan, the national team captain, is a player representative on
the board. To avoid a conflict of interest, she did not vote, but she
remained involved in negotiations throughout, acting as a channel for
the concerns of her 22 teammates.
“Women in these positions need to continue to be on calls and speak up and push the boundaries,” Duggan said.
The prospects of a deal were dim on Monday. U.S.A. Hockey held a
teleconference for its board of directors to vote on a proposal
presented by the team. After more than three hours of discussion, the
contract was voted down. Instead, the majority of the board wanted to
respond with an offer that had already been rejected by the players.
But according to people with knowledge of the meeting, Julie Chu
stepped up. One of the United States’ most decorated Olympic athletes,
Chu is a four-time medal winner and a pioneer in women’s hockey. She
carried the flag for the United States Olympic team at the closing
ceremony of the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
Throughout the boycott, Chu supported the women’s team on social media.
As discussions sputtered, she suggested that the executive committee
should be authorized to continue negotiations with the players and then
come to a final decision.
That path led to an agreement one day later.
“It explains her character and how much it means to her as well,” said
Granato, who texted and called Chu throughout the negotiations. “She
was able to speak up, and that’s why more women in there like that are
needed because they can get through. That helps. It was vital.”
Since the 1990s — including Granato’s teams, Chu’s era and the current
roster led by Knight and Duggan — the women’s national team has been
the most consistently successful U.S.A. Hockey product. The players who
fought for their new contract said they believed they had only begun to
shape the organization from within.
“Starting a culture change in U.S.A. Hockey, that’s ultimately at the
end of the day what needs to happen to progress and move forward,”
Lamoureux-Morando said. “Hopefully, other countries now will kind of
follow suit. We’re a model to look at.”