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NWSL’s New CBA Gives Players Ownership of Their Biometric Data Tracked by Wearables

By

Andrew Cohen


The NWSL’s collective bargaining agreement gives players ownership of their biometric data tracked by GPS wearables, 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 CBA, we fought for the right for players to choose whether or not to wear the GPS tracking devices that monitor heart rate, distance covered and things of that nature,” Burke told NBC. “So players can choose whether to wear that, and they own that data. That 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-ever CBA in January. In 2018, U.S. Soccer and wearables company STATSports signed a deal worth more than $1.5 billion that included distribution of its Apex GPS tracking devices to NWSL clubs.

“We do see the broadcast value of aggregate, non-individually identifiable data being shared as a way to add interest for fans,” Burke said. “That’s not really the issue. The greater concern is when [the data] is individually identifiable and who owns that information. So we would say that players own that data and that it shouldn’t be disclosed without their consent.”

Burke also discussed the need for more research to be done on women’s health in professional sports. FIFA launched a study last year with blood analysis company Orreco to examine how different phases of the menstrual cycle effects on-field performance in female soccer players. The topic was also discussed by Whoop‘s VP of performance science Kristen Holmes at SportTechie’s State Of The Industry.

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



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