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.