The NWHL has scaled back the responsibilities of their hockey operations interns after the women’s hockey community criticized them for the fact that the positions—which were not initially described as paid—read more like the work of several full-time front office jobs than a single part-time gig.
An NWHL spokesman confirmed that the league decided to change the internship requirements today after social-media objection to the internship posting. The new listings contain fewer than half the responsibilities of the original ones and have been stripped of relatively high-profile duties such as maintaining the team’s travel budget and overseeing officials at home games. A line has also been added to the listing clarifying that the positions are paid, which, according to the spokesman, had always been the NWHL’s intention but was something that the league had “failed to note” the first time around.
Originally, the listings read as follows:
(The internship was listed separately for each of the league’s four teams, but the posted copy was the same in each listing save for team name and location.)
Now, they look like this:
That’s shrinking the internship description from 12 distinct duties to five, with some pretty significant changes to the five that remain. Prospective interns can no longer expect to “manage” and “coordinate” and “oversee” heavily logistical and technical tasks; rather, they will simply assist with them. In short, the position is no longer one for a hybrid video chief/travel secretary/all-purpose front office executive who may or may not be paid. Now, it’s more or less and ordinary sports internship.
The league spokesman said that the interns will be paid a “very fair” stipend, though he would not specify how much that would be. (The internships are designed to be part-time positions, with 16-20 hours of work per week, he said.)
“As we reviewed the job responsibilities as listed, it was decided that, even for paid positions, the responsibilities were a lot,” the spokesman wrote in an email. “So the job responsibilities were reconsidered and lowered.” In a later email, he called some of the original internship responsibilities “flat-out wrong” and a “mistake,” saying that full-time employees will handle much of that work.
Demanding internships, often for relatively little pay, are common in sports. (Kate Morrison and Russell Carleton of Baseball Prospectus did an excellent series last year on how MLB’s low-paying internships create a system that shuts out poorer candidates and limits diversity in the field.) Lots of people want these jobs and there are few of them, and various leagues routinely exploit that fact with unpaid or underpaid temporary positions.
The NWHL’s situation, though, is very, very different from that of the country’s largest leagues. This isn’t a corporate behemoth taking advantage of young people desperate to get their feet in the door; it’s a fledgling league that is struggling to find its way as it enters its third season, that has had difficulty paying its players, and that is fighting for space in an environment where women’s sports are routinely overlooked or set up to fail. (By comparison, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League traditionally has not paid its players at all.) Among other things, the demands the NWHL initially sought for its interns could be taken as a measure of what it takes for such a league to survive. In any event, the league’s interns will probably turn out pretty well-prepared for a career in the glamorous world of sports.