Wearable technology is bringing up questions in ethics in pro sports

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As wearables continue to evolve, leagues are finding themselves asking many new questions about its use.

There is no question that wearable technology has an amazing amount of potential when used by players in professional sports leagues, but the specific way in which collected data is used is starting to generate a massive number of ethical questions.

Athletes already have massive amounts of data collected and analyzed about their performances on the field.

For many years, leagues have been measuring how fast athletes move, how far they run, how fast they throw, how frequently they score and a great deal more. In fact, the data collection has become quite specific. It’s possible to know the average speed of a pitcher during his or her second inning of play while at a home game, while playing on an even numbered day of the month. With wearable technology, the amount of data collected is even greater, with a larger amount of specificity.

Wearable technology measures precise performance factors, health metrics and even tracks a player’s sleep.

Wearable Technology - Pro SportsA recent tech conference held in Toronto, Canada held a panel on wearables and brought up the issue of privacy that is inherent to this increasingly popular trend in pro sports. While it is not unheard of for a team to want to know everything it can about its players in order to ensure the best possible performance while reducing the risk of injury, what is not yet outlined is at what point does it cut into the rights of the player to his or her own privacy.

Among the key factors being discussed in this wearables debate is that the evolution of technology has occurred more quickly than the collective bargaining agreements that decide the way that pro leagues and their players interact. For instance, the NFL now has its players wearing radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips that are located in their shoulder pads. This allows the movements of each player to be tracked and transmitted in real-time. That tech allows broadcasters to share distance traveled during a run and other interesting data while the game is still in play.

However, new wearable technology can also help to track a great deal more and provides a broader amount of information about a player’s health and lifestyle. The question now being asked is: at what point has the tracking gone too far.

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