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New Labor Deals in Pro Sports Reflect Need for Rest and Recovery

January 23, 2017

Last month, both Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association negotiated new collective bargaining agreements with their respective players associations. Notable changes to MLB’s labor deal include shortening players’ minimum stints on the disabled list from 15 days to 10 days, and eliminating the rule that awarded home-field advantage in the World Series to the league who won the All-Star Game.

Among the NBA’s new regulations are a decision to extend the age a player can sign a max contract through from 36 to 38, and the formation of a “wearables committee” to explore the use of devices like WHOOP during games.

As one might expect, the new CBAs revolve primarily around everyone trying to make the most money. However, there is something else they each have in common: Both deals show an increased understanding of the importance of rest, Sleep and Recovery for the athletes.

Beginning in 2018, the MLB season will be lengthened in order to incorporate four additional off days per team. also states that there will be “restrictions on start times of games on getaway days so that players will arrive in their next city at an earlier time.”

Making travel easier could go a long way towards improving the quality of play on the field. Findings from the WHOOP MLB Performance Study conducted last summer indicated that baseball players get less sleep after travel, and in turn are less recovered the next day.

Like MLB, the NBA will also make a similar effort to increase players’ time off during the season by cutting back on the number of exhibition contests in the preseason and beginning its regular season earlier. According to, this “should further reduce both back to back games and stretches of four games in five nights.”

A better understanding of the risk of injury in recent years has led to many NBA stars missing games when back-to-backs are involved. Nobody wants to see the league’s best players on the sidelines, so decreasing the overall number of back-to-backs is a win for all parties.

In noting these developments across MLB and the NBA, Huffington Post contributor Dr. Christopher Winters, a neurologist and sleep specialist, wrote:

“As someone who has dedicated his life to promoting healthy sleep, hearing the news from these two leagues feels like a huge victory for everyone in the small community of sleep and athletic performance. This may only be the beginning of changes seen in professional sports brought about by sleep science. There are reports that the NFL is considering doing away with games on Thursday night. When teams play on Thursday, the games occur after a shortened week. This reduction in time not only cuts into team preparation, but it more importantly reduces the time athletes need to recover. This produces what many feel to be an inferior product on the field. This is in addition to the NFL’s experiment of playing games in other foreign cities like London which takes even more of a toll on its players via travel and jet lag.”

The NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement doesn’t expire until 2020. But when the time comes, you can expect it will also take into account the benefits of proper rest and Recovery for players.


The NFL’s London Conundrum
Case Study: The Effect of Travel on Sleep and Recovery


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