Women’s Hockey: Team USA Boycotts Like A Girl — And Wins04:00 – WBUR

Fast forward to 2017. Earlier this month, Knight and other members of the U.S. women’s national team reached their breaking point. If the women didn’t get a better deal from USA Hockey, the players planned to boycott the World Championships kicking off today in Plymouth, Michigan. They stared down the U.S. hockey powers-that-be with a fierceness and determination born of years of second-class citizenry. Tuesday night, they won.

Tonight, the U.S. faces team Team Canada at the World Championships. And the women do so with a new, four-year deal that guarantees a major raise plus insurance and travel accommodations equal to what the men receive. No more coach class to international tournaments when the men fly business class. No more $15 per diem on the road. It’s now $50.

The players were, perhaps, emboldened by women’s marches across the country and angered by pay inequities inside and outside of sports. During negotiations, the biggest names in the women’s game asked for more than a wage increase; they asked for solidarity and greater respect for the women’s game. They got that, too.

That solidarity and respect may be the most significant takeaways from all the deal-making. More and more, female athletes are realizing the power they possess. They don’t need to be grateful for getting the opportunity to compete. They shouldn’t think twice about wanting more; they should demand it. Now, the seven-time World Championship gold medalists have shown the mettle they possess — and the support they have — off the ice.

Consider the solidarity. The desire to make the sport better for future generations resonated with female hockey players of all ages. If they didn’t act together now, the players knew they’d be dealing the same frustrations they’ve had for years. And if the U.S. women’s national team didn’t rally the support of female hockey players at all levels, their bid for parity wouldn’t have succeeded. The united front gave the national team leverage.

With the World Championships looming and the women intent on a boycott, USA Hockey asked junior players, pro league players, college players and rec league players to play as replacements.

They declined.

And they did so loudly, defiantly and fearlessly, talking — and tweeting — about how USA Hockey’s recruitment of potential replacement players was desperate and embarrassing. Many responded with the same tweet: “Today I will do what others won’t do so tomorrow I can do what others can’t. I said no to USAH & will not play in the 2017WC #BeBoldForChange.”

They were bold. Considering the control USA Hockey exerts over developmental and national team opportunities, they were incredibly brave, too.

It wasn’t long before support for the U.S. women’s team came from athletes and players’ unions connected to the National Women’s Hockey League, NHL, NBA, WNBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and the U.S. women’s soccer team. There was even word around the NHL that American players might refuse to compete in the men’s World Championships in May. In addition, 20 U.S. senators, including Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey from Massachusetts, wrote a letter in support of the players.