Fitness and biometric wearables are a perfect fit for professional sports, even though the sports’ governing bodies do not always agree. International soccer talks about it, the NFL and MLB seem to be going for it in some form, and now it’s becoming an issue for the NBA. And the NBA says “no.”
Why? Because, and here’s the sticking point, none of the professional leagues approves players wearing fitness bands like Fitbit or Whoop, by the eponymous Boston company.
Whoop—which is pronounced “hoop,” opening a double set of puns for reviewers—is a fitness tracker that measures strain and recovery, measures sleep, tracks training and provides a team dashboard that correlates individual and team performance. All this is said to reduce injury and keep everyone playing at the top of his or her game—whatever game that might be.
Sounds, good, right? Seems like everybody in pro sports from owners on down would whoop for joy. Well, as with so many things in the tech universe, it’s a hardware problem. More, it’s an old-school hardware problem: a what-if-some-guy-hits-you-with-his-wrist-hardware problem. Well, what if he hits you with an elbow to the nose or gut? Or head butts you? Foul.
And let’s look at this pragmatically. How much can a wristband weigh? It’s not like someone is going to slug you with a laptop. Or brass knuckles. And if you make the players pay for their own Whoop, maybe they’ll be more careful with it.
It’s not all hopeless, though. ESPN reports the NBA’s union and Whoop are meeting this week. Whoop-ee!