The US women have won gold at the past three world championships and medaled in every Winter Games since women's ice hockey was added as an Olympic sport in 1998. There is little to no development for female hockey players in the United States, while USA Hockey pours $3.5 million a year into the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (USNTDP), a team of high school boys.
The two-week saga between USA Hockey and the US women's national team has come to a tentative end.
Ahead of Monday's vote, over a dozen US senators - including Elizabeth Warren - signed a letter to USA Hockey's Executive Director Dave Ogrean, urging the organization to provide "equitable support" to the women's team.
The agreement includes the formation of a Women's High Performance Advisory Group of former and current players from the U.S. Women's National Team program, along with volunteer and staff leadership, to meet regularly to assist USA Hockey in efforts to advance girls' and women's hockey in all areas, including programming, marketing, promotion and fundraising.
That American men standouts like Patrick Kane or Ryan Suter got to travel business class to worldwide tournaments while women like Brianna Decker and Megan Bozek traveled in coach says a lot about the inequality in the organization before this agreement.
"Today reflects everyone coming together and compromising in order to reach a resolution for the betterment of the sport", USA Hockey president Jim Smith said in a joint statement released by the two sides. And while the lockouts by the National Basketball Association in 2011 and the NHL in 2013 happened in the social media age, they came before activism of both the real and hashtag varieties became a major part of modern American life.
The U.S. women's soccer team, which has been without a contract for months, made headlines last summer with their demands for equal pay and equal conditions from U.S. Soccer, noting that its players get paid far less for winning than the men get for losing. "It's going to be important to not just sign a deal and be done with it but to continue to grow the sport and to market our sport and market the players and it's just going to create numbers at the grassroots level that I think players want to see and USA Hockey wants to see". I'm proud of my teammates and can't thank everyone who supported us enough.
The World Championships begin on Friday in Plymouth, Mich., as the Americans take on rival Canada in their opening game. "It's now time to turn the page". NCAA Division III, Under-16 girls and adult-league players were sought out after numerous nation's elite players turned down USA Hockey in solidarity to boycotting players.
The games, which the U.S.is hosting, begin on Friday.
Players receive Olympic medal bonuses of $20,000 for gold and $15,000 for silver from USA Hockey and $37,500 for gold, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze from the USOC.
Still, the 91-member board simultaneously gave USA Hockey's executive committee authority to finalize a new deal without returning for another full board vote.
Since news of the boycott broke, USA Hockey has reportedly been working to put together a team to play at the World Championships, which will be hosted in MI.
The women's team is now locked in a yearlong negotiation with USA Hockey over fair wages. Last week all four major sports unions issued statements of support, and wide range of athletes, such as soccer star Abby Wambach and basketball players Sue Bird and Brittney Griner, have voiced their support on social media.