Millionaire Athletes no Longer in Control of their Sleep?

I read a very interesting article written by Jeff Caplan on Hang Time Blog about a new-age technology the Dallas Mavericks will be implementing for their athletes this upcoming season. A Vancouver-based company called fatigue science has created a wrist-watch (yet it doesn’t tell the time…) called Readiband, which analyzes the levels of fatigue of the wearer.

The Dallas Mavericks are poised to become the first NBA team to have it’s athletes wearing these watches, which will unveil information about the amount of sleep they are getting, how deep the sleep is, and exactly how fatigued their muscles (and their brains) are. It will give the organization results for both the individual players as well as the team as a whole.

Although I understand the arguments that these athletes are paid millions of dollars and should be willing to do whatever it takes to reach their maximum potential, I feel this is extreme measures. One could argue that this practice is invading the athletes privacy, many of which are in the public eye almost every moment of consciousness, and under even more intense scrutiny from their respective organization. Telling them that the only hours they had to themselves will also now be monitored by the organization, sounds very similar to Big Brother.

These athletes have almost every other aspect of their life recorded, analyzed, and compared; from on court statistics and performances, to practice times, travel times, nutrition plans, exercise regimens, public appearances, and so on. At what point do we draw the line? When will professional athletes start walking around with oxygen tanks because the organization decided that “the air these athletes are breathing is not good enough, pure O2 increases stamina by an average of 7%!”

An interesting note about this article, it has quotes from Pat Byrne, founder of Fatigue Science, and Jeremy Holsopple, the Mavericks athletic performance director. It also mentions Mark Cuban and his interest in the program, yet it gives absolutely no indication of how the players feel about this program. Not one athlete is quoted, and for myself it raises the question; are the athletes on board with this new technology? After some research on the Fatigue Science webpage, I discovered the write-up for the Vancouver Canucks, the first pro sports team to use this technology. Again, no mention of the athletes perspective of the technology.

In no way am I attempting to belittle the use for this technology. On the Fatigue Science website, as well as in the Hang Time blog, it is mentioned that these fatigue analysis watches are used in high-risk industries such as; aviation, military, long-haul trucking, and construction. Personally I believe this is a wonderful technology when utilized to keep those in potentially dangerous occupations safe, however its use in sports is stretching the limits of what we should and shouldn’t ask athletes to do.

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3 Responses to Millionaire Athletes no Longer in Control of their Sleep?

  1. bcubello says:

    In regards to these new watches, I can see them being a good thing for athletes and their teams. Often we decide to go to bed based on what time it is, not how we feel. For instance, there are times when I could go to bed at 9:30 pm but I don’t because I say to myself “well it is only 9:30”, and so I stay up until my usual bed time. My body is telling me it is tired but I ignore that because I think it is too early. Therefore, these watches can help athletes better judge how much sleep they actually need and not base it off the time.

    Marked – SE

  2. vbibby says:

    I don’t think this is a complete bad idea to implement this technology into professional sports but I do see the concern that you are stating. We do have to look that these athletes are professionals and at that they are employees of an organization. The main focus of these organizations is to gain as much revenue as possible and the number 1 contributing factor to gaining revenue is winning. Clearly the athletes are the one with control over winning seeing as its based on their performance. The technology is being used to ensure that the athletes stay in top shape. This is why diets are implemented for these athletes, curfews, workout plans, etc. All these policies to say are part of being a professional athlete. If you can study an athletes sleeping habits you may be able to determine if they are getting to much sleep, so the curfew may have to be adjusted for them. You have to look at the bigger scope of how the technology can contribute to bettering the life’s of the athletes.

    Marked – SE

  3. brendanmccardle says:

    This is tough because like our classmates who have commented above, you can see both the positives and negatives to implementing this policy. Athletes are already under such watchful eyes that it should be no surprise those same eyes want a glimpse into what we might have thought to be their only opportunity for privacy – sleep. However, these seemingly controlling policies like diets, curfews, and workout plans were at one time an anomaly in sport a hundred years ago when an athlete would show up, play the game, and go home. Like all of those things, it will be a matter of getting used to something new. As you said, organizations have millions of dollars invested in these individuals, so do have the right to explore this new technology…but maybe not the right to implement it.

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