As a you are champion of the city of Buffalo, I would imagine that you are well versed on the plight of one of the Queen City’s professional sports teams. Nearly one week ago, the women’s hockey world awoke to the devastating news that the players of the National Women’s Hockey League – whose average salaries are already less than most part-time workers – would see an intense decrease in their income. The original report of 50 percent seems to be erroneous; recent statements from players have the decrease between 60 and 65 percent. The Buffalo Beauts are founding members of this fledgling league.
I am certain that being the majority owner of an NFL team keeps you very busy, so this news may have gone unnoticed. For this reason, I am compelled to bring it to your attention.
I don’t think I have to explain the importance of a league like the NWHL. While I can’t speak for New York, Boston, or North Branford (which hosts the Connecticut team,) the existence of the Beauts has recharged local interest in girls’ hockey. After Buffalo’s first game in October 2015, a local hockey rink indicated their numbers for girls’ tryouts tripled.
The league has made a few mistakes in their brief existence, but they have never faltered in their commitment to the community; the players, the NWHL itself, and their corporate sponsor Dunkin Donuts have all been very visible at camps, clinics, and in general community outreach. Players visit local hospitals. The league held their first tournament for girls ages 10-14 on opening weekend.
If the league’s financial issues were to be its doom, women’s sports as a whole would suffer a crushing blow. At a time when efforts are being made on a national level to end the marginalization of women in our National Team programs, it could not be more imperative to advocate for their success. Across America, the battle for equality rages, perhaps stronger than ever. The measured success of the National Women’s Soccer League is an indication that there is a national interest in women’s sports. Attendance records were set more than once this season.
The NWSL team that trains in Buffalo’s suburbs won the championship, by the way. While our two major teams struggle through mediocrity, our city has a rich history of success in sports with smaller markets.
The NWHL would benefit from several things that yourself and Pegula Sports and Entertainment have to offer. Aside from the financial support that the league needs so badly, Pegula SE is a national brand with cutting edge marketing, public relations, and social media – all of which could immediately improve the league and its appeal. It is a company that has created dozens of jobs in our regional market, and given the citizens of Western New York the ability to work with the teams they love in a hands-on environment.
Most importantly, though, Pegula SE is THE high watermark for the support of women in sports. Your family has been among the leaders in this sort of advocacy, and it is well known that members of your family are themselves proud athletes. We are proud, too, that Buffalo is represented by people who understand the importance of equality in this regard.
With all of this in mind, I submit that it may be in the interest of PSE to take a close look at the NWHL. I cannot imagine a limit to their success, if only given the tools the league needs to succeed. Your expertise, understanding of the market, and access to the necessary tools are exactly what the league needs to take the next step forward.
Often, a player will share a photo of themselves with a young girl staring up at them in amazement. Those young girls are your daughter. They’re my daughters. They’re the next generation of athletes poised on the precipice of seeing their greatest dreams realized. You have the power to make these dreams come true. I implore you to take action in that regard.
On behalf of 716 Sports Podcast, I wish you the happiest of holiday seasons.