Hickel sisters join nationwide movement to protest gender pay gap
For years, the gender pay gap in professional sports has received national attention. Just last year, Forbes Magazine reported that the top 10 highest-paid women athletes combined earned less than the highest-paid male athlete.
Now, two professional hockey players from Alaska are taking a hard stance on the issue. Sisters Zoe Hickel and Tori Hickel are joining more than two hundred other women, stepping back from the sport, protesting for better pay and health care benefits.
The pair have vowed not to play in any professional leagues in North America this season as part of a nationwide movement called #ForTheGame.
"I think it's important that we all stick together as one common voice here and start to fight for the main cause to have a viable league that supports us and that's sustainable for the future," Tori told KTVA's Daybreak in a live interview Monday.
As a symbol of unity, athletes in the movement have shared the same #ForTheGame post on their social media pages.
It reads, in part:
"Having no health insurance and making as low as two thousand dollars a season means players can't adequately train and prepare to play at the highest level."
In a statement on its Twitter page, the National Hockey League Players' Association published a statement regarding the movement:
"The NHLPA is encouraged that the players are taking an active role in the future of women's professional hockey. Their voice is important to ensure the continued growth of the game, and their judgments need to be respected."
Zoe says she is encouraged by this response and also by the support that #ForTheGame has gotten from successful women athletes, including former top-ranked tennis player Billie Jean King, who Zoe says is a role model.
In 1973, King took on a man, Wimbledon champion Bobby Riggs, in a match dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes.” Ninety million people watched King defeat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
These days, the Hickel sisters say they aren't sure what's coming next.
"I think we're kind of holding out, waiting to see what comes up," said Tori. "It's really to see what the best opportunity is for each person individually. [We’re] here for the summer in Alaska, and we'll go from there."
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