Will athlete health and sleep monitoring data make their way to sports betting?


The Monday after Justin Thomas won the PGA Championship in the playoffs after coming back from seven headbutts, the data fitness company Shout published the following information:

“From Saturday evening to Sunday morning, before his last lap, Justin Thomas had a sleep score of 100% and a recovery score of 89%. He spent nine hours and 50 minutes in bed, according to the company, nearly an hour and a half longer than his monthly average.

Whoop had, with the athletes’ permission, released this kind of data before, usually coinciding with major wins like this.

But the information has passed viral on social mediain part because sports bettors were salivating at the thought that they might get this kind of information as Thomas headed for the first tee of the final round.

As athletes of the “Body is Temple” era began doing everything in their power to achieve peak performance, companies like Whoop offered them in-depth body condition measurements with a body-based device. outside of their body.

A private company whose last valuation stood at $3.6 billion, the question for fans and bettors alike has increasingly become: is there a way to get this data?

“We understand this could have huge potential for gaming,” said Whoop Founder and CEO Will Ahmed. “If you knew Justin’s body was physically at its peak before he won, that would change the way you bet on him or if you knew how Patrick Mahomes’ body was on Super Bowl morning. You can see that if data was shared on a high profile star it could affect a betting line, but ultimately the bottom line is that the decision to share should be the athlete’s decision.

Thomas and Mahomes would choose to share, at least afterwards, because they are investors, and it was easy to see in Thomas’ situation how much publicity Whoop got from the revelation. But others maybe not so much.

When such technology first became available six to eight years ago, conversations about data sharing and what was appropriate were immediately front and center. Players didn’t want to use it if teams had full access to their data so it could be used against them. The players’ unions have insisted that the line must not be crossed.

The mistrust of data between player and team runs deep.

“If you go back 20 years, teams taking data and monitoring, it had a very different feel,” Ahmed said. “Teams were like, ‘We’re going to put this thing on your body,’ and the athlete didn’t know what he was doing. We flipped that on his head. The athlete is the end user and he is the guardian of his data. »

Like everything, data does not guarantee everything. Imagine being able to see Michael Jordan’s body stats before his famous “Flu Game” 25 years ago or Joe Namath’s stats before the 1968 AFC Championship game as he returned from the night five hours before kick off. No one in their right mind would bet on the Chicago Bulls or the New York Jets under these circumstances.

There is also live data, which could one day be used for live betting. What does an athlete’s heart rate look like before a big putt? Does it matter? How do you think Patrick Mahomes’ biggest heart rate spike in last year’s AFC Championship game happened when he was on the sidelines and Buffalo had the ball? Such factors are fascinating to consider.

But will this type of data ever become available in a way that bettors can take advantage of?

“I think over time the data will come before the events,” Ahmed said. “But it will be up to the player. So much has changed over the years. Did you ever think you’d see a pro athlete take you into the locker room for a coach to give a victory speech after the playoffs in front of thousands of people watching live? I think athletes feel comfortable letting us in more than they ever have before, and maybe that takes a business model.

It is an idea. Would an athlete be willing to share more if a company, perhaps a bookmaker, paid for this data? And would they share it with bettors, or keep it to themselves?

Ahmed doesn’t rule out the possibility, especially given the response to Thomas’ PGA Championship data, that Whoop could use the data to market its products.

“We had to find the balance between our core proposition and the marketing,” Ahmed said. “We want to be on the right side of the conversation here. We want to improve the health and performance of the people who wear our products, and we will never compromise that. »

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