Here's the question (a headline in Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter): "Will Female Pro-Hockey Players Ever Get What They're Worth?"
And here's the answer (from the text of the article itself, which is about the sad-sack salaries in the National Women's Hockey League compared to what the guy pros of the National Hockey League earn):
[A]s of December 27, the average attendance at an NWHL game was 900 people. In comparison, the NHL's lowest average overall attendance this season belongs to the Carolina Hurricanes, with 14,258 (as of this writing).
In other words, female pro-hockey players may well actually getting what they're worth–which is zero. Who wants to watch women play hockey? In fact, I didn't even know there was a National Women's Hockey League until I found this article. I'd always assumed that the whole point of professional ice hockey was to watch handsome Russian and Canadian brutes shoving the puck and sometimes each other.
But it seems that just about a year ago some female players got together and formed the NWHL with the bold aim of paying women on the teams apparently for the first time in human history. The only other women's pro-hockey league in North America, the Canadian Women's Hockey League, seems to have a firmer grip on economic reality and doesn't pay its players.
But the problem with a sport that doesn't draw much revenue is that there's not much revenue to spread around. So we have this sad scene:
Two-time Olympian Hilary Knight, the most famous women's-ice-hockey player in America, picks at her food at a Mexican restaurant in Medford, Massachusetts, at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday. She's driven over from a rink in Everett, Massachusetts, where her professional team, the Boston Pride of the National Women's Hockey League, had held practice.
"Do I think I'm worth what I'm getting paid?" The 26-year-old repeats my question, only with an edge.
Arguably the most talented member on the NWHL's most Olympian-heavy roster, she will be paid $22,000 in this inaugural season. The salary will tie for the highest on her team. It will also represent a quarter of one percent of what Patrice Bergeron, the highest-paid player on the Boston Bruins, will make this year.
That may be because the average attendance for a Boston Bruins home game this season is 19,070.
But Knight doesn't see it quite that way:
She leans forward, shaking her head.
"Absolutely not. I am worth way more than that."
And of course it's all owing to Salary Sexism, according to Lenny Letter's Avery Stone::
if you still grow up being told you'll never earn as much as the men, how do you know your worth? And how do you demand more? As a female athlete, if you ask for too much — if you appear ungrateful for what you do have — the idea that it could all be taken away, that you'll be back where you started, is always lurking.
What we need are some federal "pay equity" laws that will give Knight $8.75 million a year, just like Bergeron. After all, aren't they doing the same job?