Barbara Barker is an award-winning sports features writer and columnist who has covered sports in New York for Show More
Monique Lamoureux-Morando, by anyone’s account, is one of the best women’s hockey players in the world.
An alternate captain on the U.S. national team, Lamoureux-Morando has won two Olympic silver medals, has been on the team that has won five of the last six world championships, and was named USA Hockey’s women player of the year in 2016.
All that being said, she knows she could be even better. That’s because in order to be able to play for the U.S. team, Lamoureux-Morando works three part-time jobs, the primary one being a strength and conditioning coach in Grand Forks, North Dakota. There are some days when she works from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., and still has to find a way to squeeze in three more hours of training and skating to keep in shape for the U.S. team.
Lamoureux-Morando is not alone as she estimates that more than half of the 23 members of the team, including her twin sister, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, work multiple jobs in order to be able to play hockey for their country. Many of those who don’t have to rely on their parents or a spouse to help make ends meet. And this is the primary reason why they have decided to boycott the upcoming World Championships in Plymouth, Michigan.
“I’m pretty sure I speak for all my teammates that this is the hardest decision we’ve had to make as athletes,” Lamoureux-Morando said, “but we feel it is the right thing to do. We’re not asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’re asking for a livable wage.”
Since the team announced its boycott on Wednesday, there have been a lot of facts and figures and unique math used to figure out what the members of the women’s team can make.
No matter how you add it up, however, it’s fair to say that the team receives ridiculously low wages and a lack of support from its national governing body. This is why all the players, including forward Dana Trivigno of Setauket, are committed to their boycott of the eight-team International Ice Hockey World Championships, which begins March 31.
Tweeted Trivigno when the boycott was announced: “US WNT will not play in 2017 World Championship due to stalled negotiations over fair wages and support from USA Hockey. #beboldforchange”
USA Hockey pays its team members $1,000 per month for the six moths before the Olympic Games. That’s a salary of $6,000 for four years. With incentives from the US Olympic Committee, top players can make an extra $2,000 per month, but many make as little as $750. The USOC also pays a one-time bonus to athletes who win medals. In Sochi, the U.S. women made $15,000 for winning the silver. It’s not just the pay, however, that the players are protesting, which is why this may end up being considered a pivotal moment not only for hockey, but for women’s sports. It’s the complete lack of respect and support their sport receives from an almost exclusively male governing body that reported $42 million in annual income in 2015, according to its most recent 990 filing with the IRS.
Despite the fact that youth girls teams are paying a respectable chunk of the fees that make up that $42 million in income, the women’s program is often treated as an afterthought. For example, USA Hockey spends $3.5 million per year to support a 60-game schedule for its boys youth developmental team; there is nothing comparable for young girls.
In fact, the women point out, USA Hockey spends $2.5 million more on teenaged male hockey players than they do on the women’s national team.
“We believe this is not just for the 23 players on the roster today. This is for all the players who have come before us and come after us,” Lamoureux-Morando said. There’s nothing we want more than to be able to play, but this is not just for hockey. This is for all sports. You look at the climate right now in this country, and people are starting to see that women deserve equal pay for equal play.”
“We think this is the right thing to do.”