July 7, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: WNBA injury tracker and why it matters

Jackie and Lucas discuss how his WNBA injury tracker came to be and what can be learned from it

In the latest episode of Locked on Women’s Basketball, host Jackie Powell is joined by The Next’s Lucas Seehafer to break down a project he’s taken on this WNBA season, tracking the injuries in the league. The pair discuss how his investigation into this issue led to the creation of the tracker, what data is included in the tracker and then why tracking WNBA injuries properly matters in the grand scheme of the league’s mainstream respectability and growth.

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Lucas explained how the idea for the injury tracker came about, including what the electronic medical record (EMR) is.

“What [Howard Megdal and I] found is that even though in the WNBA collective bargaining agreement, both the old one and the new one that was recently adopted, there was a phrase in there that said, this EMR is supposed to be used, it needs to be used,” he said. “And in part, it can be used for academics or researchers outside and unaffiliated with the WNBA. So they can kind of track injuries, and help the league come up with ways to prevent injuries.

And basically, what Howard and I found is that some teams are really good at filling that out. And some teams are really bad at filling it out. So it kind of gave an incomplete picture of the injury situation in the WNBA. So we reported on a story [about] that published at The Next that was published before the regular season started. And then with that, I figured, well, heck, if the league’s not doing it, I can probably do it, it shouldn’t be that difficult to do.”

The pair also discussed why having injury data available is important to the league as a whole moving forward.

“I also think it says, okay, by looking at this data, we can see that there seems to be a bunch of knee injuries, ankle injuries and foot injuries. And when they do happen, they keep athletes out for a prolonged period of time. So what can we do as a league and as individuals to prevent these injuries from happening?” Lucas said. “So, it gives not only researchers, but the league, training staffs, coaching staffs, strength and conditioning staffs [information] to say, ‘Okay, our team really struggled with knee injuries in 2023. Do we have to change up our program so that doesn’t happen in 2024?’ Again, if you don’t have that information, you can’t make changes. And if you’re not making changes, you can just expect the same thing to happen again or get worse. So, I think if we’re not tracking this kind of information that it’s just not out there, the knowledge just isn’t there to be had.”

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