Open Letter to USA Hockey
1775 Bob Johnson Dr.
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Executive Director Ogrean,
The Alliance of Social Workers in Sports (ASWIS) fully supports the student athletes and their teammates who are currently boycotting the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships. In ASWIS’ estimation, USA Hockey has not treated the adult women’s program on par with the men’s program, despite the success USA Women have achieved in the last 20 years. We applaud those who stand in solidarity with the USA adult Women’s teams, including the USA Men’s Adult Hockey Program, the National Football League Players Association, the National Basketball Players Association, The National Womens Hockey League and others around the world who believe in fair and equitable treatment for those athletes and student athletes who represent their country. ASWIS believes the payment of USA players of only a $1000 a month during Olympic years is not only unfair, but it insults the athletes who have sacrificed, scrimped, saved and given up time with their families and loved ones, all for the honor of wearing a USA jersey on the ice.
ASWIS also disagrees strongly with the notion of recruiting “replacement” players for those who are boycotting the IIHF Championships. Some of the potential substitute players are being recruited from the USA Womens Under 16 team. These “replacements” will have to play against seasoned professionals from Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia and other world hockey powers. Such recruitment waters down the efforts of those who have focused their careers and balanced the demands of work, school and family, for in some cases over 20 years, to represent their country. Recruiting players to replace those who speak out against unfair treatment diminishes the years of hard work, sacrifice, and dreams of the athletes who are risking their careers for better conditions. It also places undue pressure on the young athletes who may struggle to fulfill a roster spot, and could negatively impact their playing careers if they make the mistake of becoming a “replacement” player. This may be a decision they could regret throughout their lifetime.
While the USA adult Men’s players are either in the National Hockey League, or have been drafted by NHL teams, their opportunities are vastly different, and more lucrative than any situations the Women’s team could hope for. NHL players sign million dollar extended contracts, have unlimited endorsement and money earning prospects, and can use a spot on the USA Hockey Men’s team as a vehicle to further their careers, and their economic opportunities.
ASWIS believes USA Hockey should consider the Women’s team as equal partners in the journey to develop hockey players of all genders. The USA Hockey Women’s team is asking for three-year contracts during the Olympic preparation and selection process.
ASWIS also believes the Women’s teams’ requests are not exorbitant, nor unrealistic, but are a step towards equitable treatment and justice for athletes and student athletes who wish to wear the uniform of USA Hockey. NASWIS supports their endeavors fully.