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Tennessee athletes to wear special monitoring technology

The wearable technology is called WHOOP, and it could be vital.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 Taxslayer Gator Bowl - Indiana v Tennessee Photo by Mary Holt/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tennessee athletics is taking a step forward into the future. The fitness tracker company WHOOP announced a brand new partnership with the university, wherein the entire athletic department will be outfitted with WHOOP technology.

The full press release can be found here. There’s a lot of good information in that link, so read up on it if you get the chance.

Essentially, WHOOP is a fitness tracker you wear on your wrist. It is able to monitor things like resting heart rate, respiratory rate, heart rate variability, and more minute fitness indicators. It’s not dissimilar from others in this regard.

However, WHOOP has pushed for more visibility and partnerships in recent months, and they’re even worn by member of the PGA and LPGA. Tennessee appears to be the biggest name they’ve gotten on board to this point.

Why does it matter? WHOOP argues that its devices can improve recovery results, and warn of incoming sickness.

Consistent measurement of median respiratory rate (breaths per minute during sleep) with WHOOP can alert users to potentially meaningful changes going on in their body since it is a statistic that usually does not change much from night to night. This is especially important because an increase in respiratory rate may provide users with a leading indicator of illness even before the onset of symptoms.

The COVID-19 crisis has obviously increased the value of that ability. WHOOP even says an athlete wearing their device pulled out of a tournament because of the warning signs they got from their data.

The ability to improve recovery is still just as important, for Tennessee’s athletics needs anyway. One small change might not make a huge difference for recovery or injury, but many small changes add up. It could be the difference between being 100 percent for a game and having to play through soreness/fatigue.

Right now it’s unknown when or how this will be implemented. One would assume with the ongoing crisis that the school would try and install it as soon as possible, to get a potential leg up with the illness detecting feature. However, with the potential of entire seasons getting cancelled, it’s unclear what the future holds.