#BeBoldForChange

Whilst Bettman keeps the NHL firmly grasped in one hand and his gold in the other, team USA is having the opposite problem with its women team. The women are boycotting the upcoming World Championship. Their decision arises as a result of unfair wages, lack of support from USA Hockey, and lack of funding into girls development.

With the tournament commencing on the 31st of March, C7txMc0VAAAMvC4.jpgUSA Hockey only has a few days left to rectify their mistakes and settle a deal with the team’s lawyers. The women have received support from the National Hockey League Players Association as well as the Major League Baseball Players Association in their efforts to secure improved conditions for their team and for the future of their sport. Many members of the US women’s national soccer team, who have also fought for a base salary from their respective federation, offered support too.

The athletes only receive wages from USA Hockey in the six months leading up to the Winter Olympics… These women receive $1000 dollars per month for only six months, yet are expected to train and play competitively for another three and a half years for free to meet an Olympic standard. It is absolutely ridiculous. The women are asking for a livable wage, and for more funding because $3.5million is invested into the boy’s development program, but there are no comparable programs for girls. Is the funding worth it? In terms of recent results, the women’s team has won the gold medal in six of the last eight World Championships; for the two years they did not win gold, the team took the silver medal instead. If you cannot understand what a fantastic achievement that is, the USA men’s team have won two bronze medals in the last ten years at the World Championships and THAT IS IT! Although it might be argued that the women are exceeding all expectations without that financial or developmental support, the point is both teams should be treated equally. (Or in my opinion, evaluate why the men’s team is so awful even WITH all that funding…).

Last year, the National Women’s Hockey League was launched – A PAID WOMEN’S LEAGUE WAS ONLY ESTABLISHED LAST YEAR!! – and in its second season, it is already floundering. The maximum salary for a player is $25,000 a year therefore many of these athletes have to work a second job. Although some receive money from sponsorship deals, these are the most popular/skilled players who are already earning the maximum salary. To add a little more perspective, due to the salary cap in the NHL, no player is allowed to earn more than $14.6million (excluding sponsorship, appearances, etc) and the minimum salary for a player is $550,000 a year. The lowest paid NHL player earns 22 times more than the highest paid NWHL player.

[USWNT hockey] is a full-time job and to not get paid is a financial burden and stress on the players, obviously,” Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said. “That is the conversation my husband and I are having right now. Is playing going to be more stress than we can handle? Sadly it becomes a decision between chasing your dream or giving in to the reality of the financial burden.

The fact is these women have financial burdens placed upon because they must balance being a full time athlete with a very small salary, yet are still able to produce extraordinary results, whereas the men’s team receive far more funding and higher salaries in addition to their NHL salaries – and it is not fair.

Not only do they want a better wage, the women want to be able to fly business class, bring guests to competitions, receive disability insurance, and maternity leave – none of which are particularly outrageous demands, yet USA hockey have said it would cost far too much. The men’s team are allowed to bring a guest for World Championship games, the guest is allowed to stay in the player’s hotel room and their transport is paid for; they may stay for the duration of the championship, receive breakfast, game tickets, and merchandise. In contrast, the women have not been permitted guests in the past and have had to share a room with a teammate. The women fly in coach, and the men in business – but have the option to fly in economy with their guest on the return trip. And disability insurance is paid for by USA hockey for the men.

Why should these athletes dedicate their lives to an association that treats them like crap in comparison to their male counterparts? (Who – let’s be honest – under perform in every competition!)

An exhibition game against Finland has been cancelled and training camp has been postponed because there was no team to participate. Reports have emerged that USA Hockey has attempted to call up ex-collegiate players – who now play only at a recreational level – in the hopes of sending a team. However, many have declined to participate, preferring to side with their fellow women in the fight against inequality.

It’s a bit desperate by USA hockey. They’re going so far as to email every hockey player they can think of, or every player that was in the USA pool that they previously cut and told they were never going to reach out to again. And everyone I know is telling them “I support the national team”.

The tournament is being held on home ice, in Michigan, and if the USA has no team to represent them, it will – quite frankly – be an embarrassment.

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Who Run the World? Girls!

The Rio 2016 Olympics are in full swing and we have some ladies who are completely tearing up the game. But why, when a man is an incredible athlete is his success attributed to himself, whereas a woman’s accomplishments are as a result of the men in her life? A woman cannot only be an athlete, it must also be mentioned that she is a wife or a mother.

Corey Cogdell-Unrien, a three time Olympian, recently won bronze in the women’s trap. It made the headlines because she is the wife of an NFL player. “Wife of a Bear’s linesman wins a bronze medal” – She has a name!

I definitely understand that people want equality for women and that we should be recognized for our own accomplishments and attributes outside of who we’re married to or what our husband’s or significant others have accomplished.

Katie Ledecky is destroying swimming records and her competitors. According to NBC commentator, Rowdy Gaines (what a name btw), she swims like a man. Why is it so difficult to acknowledge her ability without comparing it to a man.

Also in the swimming, Katinka Hosszu achieved gold in the 400m individual medley (and broke a world record) and Dan Hicks from NBC turned his attention to Hosszu’s coach/husband, reporting that he was the man responsible for her success. Yeah okay, a coach does play an important role, and as her husband he also provides her with emotional support, but she’s the one swimming!

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The list goes on. As team USA’s gymnastics team chatted on the side, one commentator noted they ‘may as well be standing around at the mall’. Yeah, you know, Olympic standard gymnasts have soooo much free time to spend at the mall. Not like these young women are spending 30 hours a week training and trying to maintain their education. Oh yeah, the team lead the competition by 10 points, pretty much a landslide win.

They are women. Some are mothers, some are young, some are married, some are gay. THEY ARE ATHLETES.

Toxic Masculinity Part Two – Phrases & Injuries

How often have you heard these phrases? Man up. Be a man. You play like a girl. In hockey, Cindy Crosby and the Sedin Sisters are thrown about. These are commonplace phrases, I’m guilty of using them, but they are sexist. Maybe you don’t use them to intentionally hurt, but if you stood on somebody’s foot by accident and it hurt them, would you apologise? They motivate one group by putting down another and rendering them inferior. When you insult another player by telling them they play like a girl – what you are saying is that girls are inferior, your sporting ability is inferior because it is girl-like. This can deter girls from sports, especially typically male ones like rugby or hockey. Serena Williams’ body receives scrutiny for looking masculine – hello, she’s a 21 time grand slam champion athlete with a serve of 128mph, her body is going to be muscley, but that doesn’t mean it’s masculine! Samantha Stosur has also endured comments based on her non-feminine physique “she played like a man, and it’s really hard to play against a man” – whatever that means. Athletic women who do not meet the criteria for being feminine, i.e. dainty and pretty, are assumed to be homosexual and thus are met with homophobic attacks. Without getting too sidetracked into the diabolical treatment of female athletes, this video does a great job at illustrating the double standards for men versus women in sport by the media. The famous campaign of This Girl Can is empowering girls to enjoy exercise.

You’re not here to be a girl about it – Morgan Reilly.

Although ‘be a man’ gives us one of the best songs in Disney history, what this phrase is really saying is that to be good you must fit with these masculine ideals – what you currently are is not good enough. Being a man means you must be strong and stoic. Don’t be a pussy. Because of this doggedness to appear invincible, too often male athletes play on through injuries or take extreme risks. There is a pressure upon footballers to continue to play through an injury which can lead to pain, more severe injuries or chronic ones. Suck it up and carry on. Injuries are awful. They can be anxiety inducing and career ending. Generally, the more masculine a man perceives himself to be, the less likely he is to seek treatment. Injured athletes experience depression at a rate six times higher than that of non-injured players. There are some benefits associated with injuries such as free time to spend with families and to use as an opportunity for development, which ought to be illustrated to athletes. Undergoing rehabilitation can actually strengthen the injured area to a level higher than pre-injury. Why on earth do they play on?

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Rugby players are real men compared to footballers; they don’t roll on the ground when they’re injured, they get to their feet, bloody and battered, and carry on. They receive praise for being tough and continuing through pain. Bert Trautmann played the FA Cup final with a broken neck. Jordan Rapana continued playing with a fractured skill that required 60 staples. Paul Wood ruptured his testicle during a game of rugby and eventually had to have it removed. When you encourage and praise men for being Real Men™ it discourages them from leaving the game with an injury which can have serious consequences. Think about concussions – they are a serious brain injury, but people shake them off as being a headache, the odd dizzy spell. We need to dismantle the idea that men are not allowed to be weak. There is more to the issue of playing through an injury, such as desire to help the team and a passion to play, but one has to question whether this mindset of being tough and carrying on is dangerous.

dunca