The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, June 14, 2019

A question of class, indeed -- Five at The IX: John Langel -- Must-click links

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A question of class, indeed

Hi folks! I’m wrapping up this edition of The IX while sitting along the Hudson River in Peekskill, New York. I was up here for a conversation on what is known as “The Basics”. In summary, The Basics provide five easy to remember steps for caregivers to follow that are proven beneficial to brain development for children in their first three years of life.

Had I written this before attending The Basic meeting, I might have forgotten the first step: Maximize Love, Manage Stress.

As I sit here typing, I am growing less and less bothered by the comments of Hayley Wickenheiser and other, calling the United States National Soccer Team “classless” and other triggering words.

I thought I’d write a complete shutdown of this type of language for a team that is looked to (in the past, present, and likely the future) to make tremendous gains for women in sport around the world. No, no, no. This isn’t hyperbole by a born and proud (as well as utterly disappointed and too often marginalized) American. This is evident in the words and deeds of the 23 players on the national team.

From filing a class action lawsuit to uplifting heroes like Sojourner Truth and Audre Lorde, in the past three months alone the USWNT has proven they are anything but classless. They have also proven they are ruthless.

And, maybe that’s the real problem I have. Whether it’s asking an official in the heat of battle “Are you fucking insane?” or calling an opponent “cowards”, or removing a silver medal from ones neck in raw and sheer disappointment, we are constantly policing women in ways men — and not just in sport — are never criticized.

I’m not going to bother telling you if I agree or disagree with what led to any of these players reacting the way they did. Because for me, it doesn’t matter (edited to reflect maximizing love and managing stress)!

So, there are lots of hockey things happening, including another big one-time #ForTheGame tweeter signing and NWHL contract. I’ve felt drained and even personally criticized for simply reporting on “both sides”, so I can’t imagine what it feel like for these athletes. All the more reason I am glad to offer some ink to those willing to share insight to why they are choosing whatever they are choosing.

I implore you to have an opinion and to question what you don’t understand. I also to implore you to do so with respect, with love. The game is big enough for varying opinions and much like the leagues of yesteryear upped the ante for the CWHL and current NWHL, so too will whatever comes next.

I’ve never personally believed in #OneLeague, especially that one league being the National Hockey League. However, I know most players want that. I guess, I’m more in the camp of Valerie Still, who I featured in last week’s rambling.

Still told me, “You have to make sure, first of all, that there’s women at the table, in positions of leaders, that have the best interests of women [in mind].”

Now, I’m not necessarily talking about the current NWHL commissioner, well, not only her. Whether at the NWHLPA, PWHPA, or any formal players unions, having women players in the mix is key.

What I value most and the flaws of the CWHL, NWHL, PWHPA/ForTheGame all boil down to not just what the players say/tweet, but whether they truly have a seat at the table where decisions about their future are being made.

One thing (as far as I can tell) is for sure. When we women disagree publicly, everyone is watching. So, If you’re going to call someone or something run by or involving women “classless”, make sure they truly fit the bill.


This Week in Women’s Hockey

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! erica@ericaLayala.com

Hailey Salvian with some FAQ’s about women’s hockey. Includes where Hockey Canada and USA Hockey might fit into the PWHPA gap year plans.

Shenzhen KRS Vanke Rays get a new head coach.

The Conversation breaks down FTG and offers a unique player-controlled model.

Jonna Curtis brings The Isobel Cup home!

Player-run camps aren’t new, but are on the rise. The Ice Garden catches up with women’s players running camps.

Amanda Boulier re-signs with the Minnesota Whitecaps.

The Long Island women’s team announces inaugural schedule. Will play the Riveters in an exhibition

The Hockey Writers discuss Colleen Murphy joining the Riveters, Jordan Bricker re-signing with the Connecticut Whale.

Nicole Schammel signs with the Minnesota Whitecaps.

The Mock Draft … what teams get your favorite WoHo stars in the fictitious TIG league.


Tweet of the Week

Rayla & Laila. Maximize love, people!


Five at The IX: John Langel

John worked with the US Women’s Soccer players after their historic 1999 World Cup win. His firm, Ballard Spahr, worked with the U.S Hockey players for their #BeBoldForChange movement and is working with the PWHPA.

I spoke with John for a piece I wrote for TalkPoverty. Here is some of the unpublished conversation, including his thoughts about the similarities and differences between the U.S. Soccer and Hockey teams.

Erica L. Ayala: What was your understanding of some of the goals that [the soccer] team rwanted to put together? What was the impetus for them getting legal support and marketing support to get their asks organized?

John Langel: When I first are introduced to them, it is the fall of 1997. And I didn’t start representing them until January of ‘98 … they had two contracts. They had a Women’s World Cup committee contract, and they had a contract with U.S. Soccer. And the players believe that they had certain rights as a result of the Women’s World Cup committee contract that were not being met, that they were entitled to certain revenue from sponsors. And Julie [Foudy] sent me the contracts and I looked at him and had a discussion with her and then met with the team. They were focusing at the time on increased marketing and improve relationship with the sponsors that they thought they had the right to, but they didn’t have the right to.

And then during 1998, we began to focus on what we then look the as equitable treatment, different than what the current soccer players are looking at in terms of equitable treatment. Meaning, if the men had two trainers, the women would have two trainers, if the men had a doctor who traveled with him, the women would have a doctor that traveled … it was equitable treatment in that regard. And if the men had a certain level of marketing, the women would have that same level of marketing.

It did not deal with compensation because the women had a contract with the Women’s World Cup committee and US Soccer that ran through December 31, 1999, after the World Cup. But focused on equitable treatment consistent with the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act, which provides that if there’s a men program and a women’s program, the national governing body, in this case U.S. Soccer, will provide equitable support for both.

ELA: Could you help me and the readers understand why the difference between equity and equal?Why that differentiation?

JL: I heard Billie Jean King the other day say that, when you’re starting out, you’re looking for a sustainable wage and appropriate treatment. And when you go back to 1990-2000, the women were paid barely anything, you’re looking for a foot in the door to start, if you start, where were the women’s soccer players are today and you don’t lay a foundation, you might not get anywhere.

In those days, the women were looking at appropriate treatment so that they could make soccer their full time job and wouldn’t have to have second and third jobs. And that was the start to build the foundation that was created in those early years and continued and continues today …

[Langel went on to say he no longer represents the soccer team, but keeps up with their current CBA and lawsuit.]

We’re now at a level and we’re entitled to equal because we are bringing in even more revenue than the men. But in the beginning, you’re looking for what you’re clearly entitled to under the Amateur Sports Act, and that is equitable support.

ELA: It sounds like though prior to #BeBoldForChange, you were having with the hockey players prior to that. What do you remember those initial conversations being like and what ultimately led to the partnership ahead of the 2017 World Championships in Detroit?

JL: From what I’m told, a number of the women on the National Hockey Team worked out at the same facility with Heather O’Reilly, the women’s national team who had been with the women’s national team in the early years … they asked Heather who should they call and Heather gave them my name, Ballard’s name. One of the agents for some of the women called me in July 2015 and asked if we would be interested in helping the hockey women. In December of 2015, after several conversations with the leader of the women’s team, we created a relationship between the then players. So it started in December 2015 and then focused on a lot of this stuff, things that we focused on with soccer, going back to 1999, of creating a wish list. What were they interested in? And what was their long term interest? And remarkably, they were very similar to what the soccer women of 1999 are interested in that was focusing on growing the game, and creating a new world for younger players. So we began to focus on that, as well as you know, the equitable treatment for the current women.

ELA: In those conversations, you know, there was a hint at what we’re seeing now?

JL: The impetus was, obviously, the hockey women were looking at the successes of soccer … the hockey women definitely were influenced by the soccer women in looking at what they achieved, and some reached out to, let’s call them the ‘99errs, in particular, Julie and Mia, to talk about their journey.

I don’t think that … the women were focused on the professional side of the game, just as I don’t think the soccer women’s main focus was on the professional side. It first was on their relationship with their national governing body, and that they wanted changed. And that’s what we focused on initially with hockey. And one of the things they want with hockey was increased programming.

Now, the, the league comes up more recently, just like it developed with the WUSA after the ‘99 World Cup, you have successes of World Championships and Olympics. And the thought is, can we have a viable sustainable league … and North American women determined that what they had before them was not viable and sustainable. And these are not just the American women, the North American women, particularly when you had the Canadian league collapse. And they began to focus on should they continue to play an existing leagues that they didn’t believe was appropriate. And they determined that that there was no appropriate league and they would take their steps to try to create something. And their determination was status quo was not going to work and creating something.

ELA: I think there are a few questions that a lot of people still have, one being what is the the endgame here?

JL: We have said publicly and privately that if the NHL determines that they want to enter this, that will be the NHL determination. And the this group is not speaking for the NHL, they’re looking at what’s not working, and want to help create and proves that something will work. And they are setting out to do that in let’s call it the “gap year” to see whether they can’t grow support of the game on their own. Develop a fan interest on their own, create training environments on their own, and perhaps create games on their own in this off year. And to create an interest that hasn’t yet come to the forefront. And if it’s the NHL, terrific enough. If it’s other investors who want to help create a workable league, terrific as well.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren PGA.com
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala