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NWSL’s new CBA gives players ownership of their biometric data tracked by wearable devices


Andre Cohen

The NWSL collective bargaining agreement gives players ownership of their biometric data tracked by GPS handheld devices, NWSLPA executive director Meghann Burke said in a recent interview with NBC Sports. Players also have the option to choose whether or not they want to wear the tracking devices.

“In the ABC, we fought for the right of players to choose whether or not to wear the GPS tracking devices that monitor heart rate, distance traveled and things of that nature,” Burke told NBC. “So players can choose to wear that, and they own that data. This is their data.

The NWSL kicked off its 10th season on April 29 and it’s the first since the league and union signed its first ABC in January. In 2018, American football and wearables company STATSports signed a deal worth more than $1.5 billion that included the distribution of its Apex GPS tracking devices to NWSL clubs.

“We see the dissemination value of aggregated and non-individually identifiable data being shared as a way to increase fan interest,” Burke said. “That’s not really the problem. The biggest concern is when [the data] is individually identifiable and who owns that information. So we would say that the players own that data and it shouldn’t be released without their consent.

Burke also discussed the need for further research into women’s health in professional sports. Fifa launched a study last year with blood testing company Orreco to examine how different phases of the menstrual cycle affect performance on the pitch in female soccer players. The topic was also broached by Whoop’s VP of Performance Science. Kristen Holmes to the state of the industry from SportTechie.

“Despite the fact that women have been giving birth to children since time immemorial, we still don’t understand how a female athlete should return to professional sports after giving birth,” Burke said. “For example, what is the plan and how do you do it safely? So you see references to that in the ABC.

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