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U.S. Women's Hockey Starters Plan To Boycott Championship

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The women's hockey world championship is next week, and the defending champs, the United States, say they will sit it out unless they get certain concessions from USA Hockey. USA Hockey runs both the men and women's national teams. And it said in a recent statement that negotiations are ongoing with the women's team, but it has reached out to alternates to play the game instead. Earlier, I asked U.S. women's hockey team captain Meghan Duggan what the players want.

MEGHAN DUGGAN: At this point, the terms that we want as players have been clearly laid out to USA Hockey. There's a compensation piece but also from a marketing and PR standpoint, we're looking for more support, more recognition from our national governing body and, quite frankly, equitable treatment to what the men receive.

MCEVERS: When you talk about the compensation piece, I mean, what kind of money are we talking?

DUGGAN: USA Hockey pays us, as the women's players, only during a six-month period of time out of the four-year Olympic cycle. During that six months, USA Hockey pays the players $1,000 a month for a six-month period. The remaining three and a half years, USA Hockey pays the players virtually nothing.

MCEVERS: USA Hockey said productive conversations have taken place this week and are ongoing in our collective efforts to reach a resolution. What are sort of the main sticking points that remain?

DUGGAN: The main sticking points - to be honest, this is about equitable support and treatment for women, for young girls in this country within USA Hockey. There have been countless examples, you know, since I've been a part of the program and even prior to that with those who paved the way, that women in this program are an afterthought to the men. And as leaders of this group, we decided enough is enough.

MCEVERS: You're 29, right?

DUGGAN: I am.

MCEVERS: Yeah. So this would be maybe the last chance you have to represent in a championship like this. Have you thought about that, I mean, stakes are kind of high?

DUGGAN: Yeah without question. I've played on the national team for 10 years now. I've been to seven World Championships. This would be my eighth. And there's a lot of girls on the team that are in that same boat.

To sacrifice this world championship that we have trained for all year that we have based our lives around for this last year that is being played on home soil in Michigan, which for some of us will be the first time ever competing in a world championship on home soil - every single one of us wants nothing more than to play in this tournament. I think on the flip side of that, it shows how serious we are about this, how important it is to us and how passionate we are about changing women's hockey in this country.

MCEVERS: U.S. women's hockey team captain Meghan Duggan, thank you very much.

DUGGAN: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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