NFL players’ union signs historic deal that will enable players to sell their own performance data and make them “healthier and wealthier”

The NFL players association (NFLPA) has signed a landmark deal with human performance company WHOOP that will give players access to, ownership of and the option to sell their individual health data.

All current and future NFL players will be issued with a WHOOP Strap 2.0, which allows them to, without interference from their clubs, monitor their own performance, recovery and sleep.

WHOOP’s strap contains five sensors that measure data 100 times per second and automatically transmit it to accompanying mobile and web apps. WHOOP has also developed a Team Dashboard, which it says has “27 levels of privacy to ensure sharing data is completely secure and comfortable for all parties involved”.

“Our mission at WHOOP is to empower athletes. This partnership with the NFLPA is truly the first of its kind in that athletes will finally become both healthier and wealthier by collecting, controlling, and ultimately having the ability to sell their own health and performance data,” said Will Ahmed, founder and CEO at WHOOP.

“We applaud the NFLPA’s vision and share its commitment to work with athletes to better monitor their recovery and enable longer careers.”

Image and featured image courtesy of Alan Kotok

The partnership between the NFLPA and WHOOP is the first of its kind and was secured through the OneTeam Collective, which is an initiative designed to give companies like WHOOP the opportunity to leverage the NFLPA’s exclusive player rights.

WHOOP has hinted at seeking further partnerships with players’ unions in future.

In addition to owning their own data, as part of the agreement NFL players can design custom licensed bands for the WHOOP Strap, which will be made available commercially and allow players to further monetise the arrangement between the two parties.

“Every day, NFL players produce data that can translate into physiological and financial opportunities. We see partnering with WHOOP as the first step in harnessing this exciting technology,” said Ahmad Nassar, President of NFL Players Inc.

“We are excited to have WHOOP and its innovative, holistic monitoring technology serve as our first OneTeam Collective deal. Together, we’re paving the way towards a new frontier where athletes are empowered by data.”

Russell Okung playing for the Denver Broncos in 2016. Image courtesy of By Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY 4.0

Along with the commercial opportunities WHOOP will offer players, the partnership also promises to help players optimise training and recovery, improve performance and reduce injuries.

The NFLPA and WHOOP will both study the effects travel, sleep, scheduling and injuries have on recovery and generate reports for players aimed at boosting athletic performance.

“WHOOP and the NFLPA are putting the power of data directly in the players’ hands. I want to recover faster, avoid injuries, and have a longer career. This partnership has the potential to contribute to my health, which is imperative to my career in football,” said Russell Okung of the Los Angeles Chargers.

Not before time, football is finally using video technology

Technology’s infiltration into football continued last night as video technology was used to correct two wrong decisions in the friendly match between Spain and France.

Early in the second half, France’s Antoine Griezmann thought he had given his side the lead only for the goal to be ruled out once match referee, Felix Zwayer, had consulted with the video assistant referee (VAR), Tobias Stieler, who was sat in a truck outside the Stade de France.

Video technology was used for a second time when Spain’s Gerard Deulofeu had a goal awarded following a conversation between the referee and the VAR.

“If it is verified and it is fair, why not [use VAR]?” said France’s coach, Didier Deschamps. “It changes our football a little. It is against us today but if we have to go through this it will be the same for everyone. Afterwards, without [VAR], it would have been different, but it is the evolution of football. That is how it will be.”

Images courtesy of the IFAB

Although this isn’t the first time that VAR has been used in football, the friendly match between Spain and France is the most high-profile platform on which the technology has been utilised.

The technology is currently in testing, but FIFA president Gianni Infantino is keen to employ the system during the World Cup in Russia next year, and the German Bundesliga has approved use of the technology in the 2017/18 season.

“I’ve been very happy with the tests. It’s good for football and helps the game a lot. This is something that eradicates the big incorrect decisions, which is our goal,” said FIFA’s Chief Officer for Technical Development and former Dutch striker, Marco van Basten.

The news that VAR will increasingly be used in elite-level football is just one of the ways technology is being incorporated into football.

Football’s lawmaking body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), confirmed to Factor last month that it is in conversations with football’s major stakeholders to allow electronic equipment to be used in managers’ dugouts.

“We cannot control what is happening in the technical area right now because the devices are becoming smaller and smaller, so information can be accessed easily nowadays, and the fourth official’s role is not to check whether a player has hidden or has a mobile phone in his hand,” said IFAB Secretary, Lukas Brud.