NBA teams banned from using wearables data in contract negotiations, player transactions

Thursday February 2nd, 2017

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NBA teams will be limited in how they can use their access to data collected from wearable devices on their players, according to the new collective bargaining agreement between the league and players association.

The data may be used for player health and performance purposes along with team on-court tactical and strategic purposes only. And after National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts had heard from agents about teams using the data during contract negotiations, the new seven-year agreement that takes effect on July 1 will attempt to put an end to that.

“The data may not be considered, used, discussed or referenced for any other purpose such as in negotiations regarding a future Player Contract or other Player Contract transaction (e.g., a trade or waiver) involving the player,” according to the CBA, which adds that a grievance arbitrator will have the authority to impose a fine of up to $250,000 to any team that violates the provision.

The new CBA seeks to address concerns and issues regarding wearable devices. According to the agreement, teams can currently continue to request players voluntarily wear adidas miCoach elite systems, Catapult Sports ClearSky and Optimeye systems, Intel Curie systems, STAT Sports Viper systems, VERT Wearable Jump Monitors, Zebra wearable tags and Zephyr Bioharness systems.

In the future, a wearables committee consisting of three representatives appointed by the NBA and three appointed by the NBPA will review and approve those devices once again and also others that can be worn by players based upon whether they can be potentially harmful to anyone if used as intended, whether the functionality has been validated, and whether cybersecurity standards for the storage of data has been set. The committee can retain experts from fields such as engineering, data science, and cybersecurity to evaluate the devices. Teams cannot request a player use devices unapproved by the committee.

For now, wearables will continue to be barred from use during games even as the CBA leaves the door open to eventual use of them in games and commercialization of the data from the devices. The NBA and NBPA agreed to continue to discuss those possibilities, and until such an agreement is reached, no player data collected from a wearable worn at the request of a team can be made public or used for commercial purposes.

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