Professional women’s sports leagues are a thriving endeavor that continue to grow in the United States. The Women’s National Basketball Association, however, makes about a fraction less than its NBA (male) counterpart. Even the U.S. women’s national soccer team is still battling equal pay issues.
The fact of the matter is that women’s sports teams in the United States don’t need men’s teams to validate the authenticity of the game. Women are both independent and viable and that’s just what makes teams like the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) prideful and hopeful enough to expand in the right direction.
After the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded, star players such as Hilary Knight and U.S. forward Amanda Kessel announced that they would not be playing the following season, along with roughly 200 other players. Many players in fact arrogated that they would not play in the league until they “[got] the resources that professional women’s hockey demands and deserves,” according to an ESPN article.
The first NHL team to inquire business with a NWHL team was the New Jersey Devils, who later partnered with the Riveters. This past May however, the Devils concluded their affair. The Riveters moved forward, found new rinks and continued to focus on the next steps, proving that they do not need a professional men’s team to be successful.
The Riveters now travel from two locations with no team bus. The team currently plays at ProSkate Arena in South Brunswick and commutes to Floyd Hall Arena at Montclair State University to practice. They store any additional equipment in a white storage pod behind Floyd Hall.
NHL teams own private planes and buses for travel, television networks to broadcast games and they provide a more than livable salary for each player. Although the NWHL has been partnered with Twitch for three years now and has been streaming games with over 4 million viewers in just the last season, the lowest salary was stood at about $2,500 while in the NHL, the lowest salary soared at $700,000 and keeps climbing each year.
With the NHL founded in 1917 and the NWHL founded in 2015, there is a vast difference between league growth, salaries, rule changes, ticket sales and so much more that caters to the NHL’s rich history.
Forbes did a study on the most valuable teams in the NHL and found that money from television is growing the league’s revenue. The women’s league which is now being streamed on Twitch shows progress toward their growth in popularity and affluence.
In 2016, Amanda Kessel was the highest paid player at $26,000 for the Riveters and the NWHL. It was only a one-year contract however and salaries were cut not long after. In that same year, one of the highest paid NHL players and earnings for Sidney Crosby topped $110 million for the past eight years.
The Pittsburgh Penguins captain, who is also endorsed by a multitude of brands, brings in more income from advertising than all women hockey player salaries combined. A sustainable living is hard to make for female athletes, which is why Kessel refuses to play until a change is called into action.