Between the Ice and a Hard Place – What’s the Future of Women’s Professional Hockey?May 3, 20191 min read
It’s tough skating these days in the sport of women’s professional hockey. Despite high ratings, exciting games and packed crowds during the Olympics – for women’s hockey, making a go of it as a professional league just doesn’t seem to be working.
Just last month, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded leaving the five team U.S. based National Women’s Hockey League as the only venue for women’s hockey.
But that option isn’t sitting well with players. Citing low pay, little support, and all-around instability - more than 200 of the world’s top female hockey players declared they will not compete in Canada or America next season until a viable and realistic league option is presented to players.
It’s an interesting play, but for a league that suffers low attendance, lacks a lucrative television deal and just doesn’t seem to be able to attract key sponsors or investors – the players are making demands while playing short-handed with alternatives.
So, what can be done to save women’s hockey?
- Is it up to the NHL to step in?
- Is it a matter of marketing?
- Is it up to each country’s Olympic association to contribute?
- Where are the fans?
- And who will invest?
Dr. Berri has spent the last two decades researching sports and economics, while publishing works on a variety of topics including the evaluation of players and coaches, competitive balance, the drafting of players, labor disputes, gender wage gap in sports, and distribution of wealth and power.
David Berri Professor of Economics
Specializing in evaluations of players and coaches in sports, gender issues in sports, and competitive balance in sports