The WNBPA has partnered with BreakAway in a deal creating a biometric data advantage for WNBA players. The deal utilizes app-based technology to put biometric data in WNBA players’ hands, helping them collect, store, control, and commercialize their data.
BreakAway, a Los Angeles-based data analytics company, is the developer of a mobile app providing athletes with performance insights. Along with the app, BreakAway provides position-specific biomechanics evaluations. The WNBPA believes putting access to this data into the hands of WNBA players will create a competitive advantage for the athletes not only in on-court performance, but in negotiations with teams and sponsors.
“There is nothing more empowering than knowing everything about yourself and using that knowledge to your competitive advantage,” said WNBPA executive director Terri Jackson. “We just finished an amazing season, with record-setting social media engagement across the league, the best TV ratings in 14 years and a thrilling Finals series. We’re building on that momentum by putting a world-class performance solution in the hands of all of our players.”
The WNBPA expects that using BreakAway data will help improve players’ on-court performance, training and recovery. Using the BreakAway app, WNBA athletes can track advanced and traditional game stats and access practice and training data. The breadth of this data is extensive, as it includes GPS, biomechanics, sensor, wearables, sleep and recovery data. The thought is that from this data, WNBA athletes can gain insights on the strength of their training regimens and identify opportunities for enhanced performance and recovery strategies.
“Our players can enhance their careers by using performance data to better advocate for themselves,” the WNBPA’s Jackson said. “They can better communicate with coaches, trainers, and their inner circles to optimize performance, reduce injury risk, make return-to-play decisions, and track their development.”
The growing proliferation of wearable technology use in professional sport has caused concern over how teams use that data in negotiations with athletes. Leagues historically have had a windfall in using data in contract negotiations, since such data isn’t historically as equally accessible to athletes. Thus, the rise of wearable technology use has led unions to begin collectively bargaining limits to the use of athlete biometric data in contract negotiations.
In the 2020 WNBA-WNBPA CBA, the parties agreed to the use of wearable technology. The WNBA-WNBPA CBA specified that a wearable technology policy would be adopted by the parties ahead of the 2020 season, or as soon as possible thereafter. Wearable technology was first worn by WNBA players in-game during the 2021 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship, when players donned Kinexon Wearables.At that time, a wearable technology policy had not been announced. It was reported that the use of the Kinexon Wearables during the Commissioner’s Cup Championship was a “proving ground” for the technology.
As the sides await the collective bargaining of a formal wearable technology policy, the WNBPA has created leverage for WNBA athletes by ensuring that they maintain access to relevant biometric data. Further, any policy will need to specify the boundaries of ownership of in-game data. As sports gambling becomes more popular in the United States, wider interest in and value is being placed on player biometric data. By putting a wide swath of biometric data into all WNBA players’ hands, the WNBPA is helping players optimize the ability to protect and monetize said data–at least for now.
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