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If you follow European soccer, chances are you have seen players like Lionel Messi and Ronaldo wearing small vests that drop roughly six inches below the shoulder.
These vests help teams track the biometric data of a player. The vests relay information such as distance run, heart rate, and maximum exertion level such as sprint speed.
Soccer leagues around Europe use the data to create statistics that show how much a team has run during a match as the total distance covered could be used to show reasons for fatigue.
Sports leagues in America have been slow to adopting biometric data but that is rapidly changing in this big data era of sports.
But the data has caught the eyes of bookmakers looking to gain an advantage over bettors during in-game betting.
In the recently defunct Alliance of American Football, the league sold the rights to their player’s biometric data in a partnership with MGM Gaming.
The data would work in concert with a mobile app that would allow the bettor to place wagers during the game with odds that are directly influenced by the readings of the biometric stats.
As ESPN reported, “MGM will put wearables on players to collect second-generation stats that will be used to better assess odds for in-game betting.”
“We’ll collect the data and then be able to have the algorithm sort out what is relevant,” Commissioner Dick Ebersol said before the league kicked off its inaugural game.
The ESPN report on the AAF continued, “After taking in the data from the tech on the field, the numbers are crunched and new odds are immediately set.”
The AAF’s agreement with MGM put a lot of professional sports league on notice and created a certain amount of uneasiness among player unions.
But, before the public and bookmakers could get a true sense of the impact of the use of biometric data, the AAF folded during the season.
As it stands, all four leagues utilize some form of biometric data but with varying degrees of access for fans and bookmakers alike.
The NHL is the most advanced of the major four sports leagues, with an agreement already in place with the union that allows the sale of the puck and player tracking and the resulting statistics.
Coming in second is Major League Baseball. MLB and their players’ union has a loose agreement on biometric data.
Through an agreement with the players, MLB cannot sell the biometric data pulled from players and the league also has to allow players to opt-out of the data program if they so choose.
The NBA’s relationship with biometric data is still a bit fuzzy as the league continues to analyze potential benefits and problems.
Finally, the NFL seems to have the smallest regard for the data at this time but future collective bargaining agreements should ramp up discussions in the football league.
“There’s the narrative that’s been said hundreds of times about any sort of athlete who’s spoken out politically. ‘Stick to sports.’ We’re much more than that, O.K.?”
As the major four leagues sort out what are the advantages of biometric data, you can expect that they’ll look for the advantages that could be attractive to paying bookmakers.
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