Ep61 ERICA AYALA Women's Hockey Now

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Thanks to all you who subscribe and read the newsletter. It’s fun to write down a few things that cross my mind while researching, interviewing, and editing. So, I appreciate you joining me in discovering more female athletes and about the business of women in sports.

For a while now, I’ve been following this week’s guest, sportswriter Erica Ayala, and hoped to get her on the show to talk about women's sports in the media. With the recent folding of the Canadian Women’s Hockey league and #ForTheGame movement it was such a terrific opportunity to get Erica on the show to fill us in on that whole story with a bit of background thrown in. She's quite the expert on hockey and it's quite a story! I’m thrilled she agreed and can’t wait to have her back on again.

What’s important about our conversation is a dose of reminders that the battles in women’s sports are definitely about money AND about being treated as professionals. The Metropolitan Riverters who had links to the NJ Devils until very recently were one of the few teams who weren’t sharing a locker room with rec(reational) leagues. Gah! Seriously? I mean, it’s not like these professional athletes are asking for the world.

Emotions are hot, as Erica explains. There are two sides. Or more. She also points out that what’s happening in hockey is the same thing that happens in all labor movements. I like that she puts it in that context rather than keeping this fight for working equity in a separate sports arena.

Erica also points out, with actual numbers, that there is, in fact, an audience for women’s hockey and for women’s sports. (And this is without the marketing dollars + other support men’s sports get.)

Our conversation was recorded the day before #ForTheGame announced the formation of a players union so obviously we didn’t talk about it. You can head over to the Show Notes to find some links to an article about that development and a whole ton of other links to articles, podcasts, players, and topics Erica mentioned in the episode. A highlight is the 30 for 30, episode, Back Pass, which she highly recommends.

Erica is a sportswriter, broadcaster, and podcaster. She serves as a color analyst and ringside reporter for the National Women’s Hockey League and writes the weekly hockey column for The IX Newsletter. She covers women’s basketball for High Post Hoops and the new WNBA vertical at The Athletic. Erica has contributed women's sports coverage to espnW, The Guardian, The Hockey News, ThinkProgress, WBAI Sports Qualified (radio), and more.

In addition to sports, Erica is a youth justice advocate. She has worked for over ten years with the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools®, a summer literacy program that seeks to fosters a love for reading and promote literacy in communities throughout the United States. She currently works as the Project Manager of the GPS4Kids Collective Impact initiative at the Westchester Children’s Association.

Erica received her B.A in Political Science, with a minor in African-American Studies from Elon University. She is an Elon Softball letter winner and a 2006 Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar. She completed her Master of Public Administration degree at the NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service in May 2016.