NFTs and The Sports Industry: The Perfect Pair
One of the current innovations in digital assets working on blockchain that are in the spotlight of mass media and the tech world is NFTs, also known as non-fungible tokens. This technology offers you a solution to prove that you possess virtual or material assets such as images, photos, videos, texts, code parts, documents, cars, buildings, or concert tickets.
The quantity and the price of NFT assets are rapidly growing, and the technology is ready to conquer new markets. One of these sectors is the sports industry. NBA Top Shot is an example of these platforms. It helps to sell collectible NFTs with epic NBA moments. In just a few months, the sales on NBA Top Shot grew from 0 to 230 million dollars. From the launch of the platform, the completed value of the deals is about 580 million dollars.
An this is just one example of a successful NFT integration into the sport. Next, we will show more models. Also, we will tell where can the NFT technology be employed in sport and what benefits and opportunities it brings to the fans, sportspeople, teams, and owners.
NFT, Non-Fungible Token is a unique digital certificate issued on blockchain that proves the right of possession over any token asset, whether it is (intellectual, virtual, or physical property). Due to its uniqueness, NFT can be employed in a picture or a GIF with cats to guarantee authenticity further. It will help to see what is the original photo and what a copy is. Original assets will lack, hence the price will grow, while the copies will not cost a penny. Mona Liza is unique, and this is why the price is high.
The technical aspect of non-fungible tokens shows us that the technology works on blockchain and smart contracts. Everything is just the same as with cryptocurrencies. If you sell or transfer NFTs, whether it is a JPG, GIF, MP3, MP4, or STL, file the information about the transaction, and the counterparties (the previous and the current owner of the NFT) is added to a decentralized register. Of course, this does not mean that these files cannot be copied, but it does mean that you can clearly distinguish between the original and the copies by the data recorded in the blockchain.
This is the NFT coinage algorithm:
An example of a virtual game is Sorare. This game was released by Adrien Monfort and Nicolas Julia in 2018. It is a fantasy football game with collectible cards. It is based on Ethereum. Now, Sorare has a partnership with about 200 teams to create NFTs of team players. You can see the FC Bayern München, Liverpool FC, AC Milan, Real Madrid CF, Valencia CF, and many other renowned football teams.
Sorare is a typical fantasy sports game, where you can create teams from NFT cards of the sportsmen. By participating in the fantasy football league, you will earn various awards. Some of them are licensed digital collectible assets that are limited, rare, super-rare, or unique.
When we think of a favorite player, we rarely recall their achievements but their moments of fame or special pregame rituals. For instance, James LeBron threw the chalk in the air. These exciting and precious moments can be recorded and transferred into NFTs, and further sold or gifted to the most dedicated fans or tournament winners.
This is the ground idea of NBA Top Shot. The platform sells NFTs of the best NBA moments. Dapper Labs (CryptoKitties creators) launched the marketplace in 2019 in close partnership with NBA. Typically, the NBA creates videos of exciting moments during the games, while Dapper Labs decide which to put for sale. The price depends on the quality of the video, the player’s fame, and the card’s rarity.
Furthermore, SportsIcon plans to release tokens of unique NFT content created by digital artists and sportsmen.
A sportsman, a team, or a league can choose the photos, videos, or other materials from their private archives and turn them into non-fungible tokens. It is better if those items were not on the Internet before. Those can be photos from childhood, first match, training, awarding ceremonies, old team pictures, event coordinators, first ball hits, etc. The image must have a collectible value.
Not only the sportsmen or their representatives can create those NFTs, but, for example, the photographers, relatives, friends, or even schools and universities where those people studied also can. In general, anyone who has the copyright can create those NFTs.
These NFTs can be sold on websites like OpenSea. One of the biggest NFT marketplaces is where users can post rare digital or crypto-collectible items that cost thousands or even millions of dollars. For instance, an NFT «Statue of LeBron» was sold for 10 000 ETH on this platform (about 35 million dollars). Kimani Okear took the shot in February 2020, and then it was coined into an NFT.
The inventory, apparel, shoes, accessories, awards, and other memorabilia of famous athletes can also be turned into NFT tokens. You can develop your platform or join an existing one to put any things for sale and share them with the fans. Moreover, you can make NFT tokens for major sports events and sell their digital copies as NFT.
Golden State Warriors, an NBA team from San Francisco, did it. They released a limited run of champion rings and ticket stubs in NFTs. The NFT collection contains the Warriors Championship Ring and ticket stubs of commemorating tickets created by the artist Black Madre. «You saw the games. You celebrated the win. Now you can also possess a part of history», — says the official Twitter account of Golden Stare Warriors.
Besides selling NFTs, Golden State Warriors also decided to award the fans with a unique experience. The sales participants, who bought the first issue of each ring, received a material ring. Those, who purchased all six NFT rings and have the entire set, received a unique banner.
What concerns the NFT ticket stubs, the one who offered the highest bid has the right to take part in the Warrior-for-a-Day. At this event, the winner signed a one-day contract with the team and got two tickets to a home game of the Warriors. Those who collected all ten ticket stubs received an NFT image of the Warriors Historic Moment Showcase. Every single slot was rapidly sold.
Visiting the M&G o any other online or offline event where the favorite sportsmen will play is the dream of a life of any true fan. It is an excellent opportunity for the team to communicate with the fans and thank them for their support and loyalty. If you want to make a meeting for a narrow circle of people, you can use non-fungible tokens as tickets and start an online auction.
Moreover, unlike the regular e-tickets or paper tickets, NFTs can be programmed so that none can copy, trade, or sell them. It will help to avoid scalping and other nasty things that boost the prices of the tickets sky-high. NFT integration help to make these tickets more affordable for fans who want to meet their idols to take a selfie (which can be later coined as an NFT).
The same will work with regular games and events. The teams and the coordinators can make NFT tickets to make the process cheap, fast, transparent, reliable, and secure. What is more, guest passes and the participation of the sportsmen in the events can be turned into a token and sold on an auction.
An example of an NFT used in sport can be the collection of Rob Gronkowski, also known as GRONK. He posted it in March on the OpenSea marketplace. The player of Tampa Bay Buccaneers from NFL coined five digital NFT cards dedicated to 4 Super Bowls and peaks of his career. Each card is a unique item that has a digital signature of GRONK. The treasure of the collections is the NFT (1-of-1) GRONK Career Highlight Card. The owner of this card has a right to a private meeting with GRONK and tickets for a game in the next season. This card was sold for 232 ETH (which is equal to 435 thousand dollars).
One more great way to employ NFTs in sport is fundraising for charity. Teams and team members can create various NFTs and give the money to charity. This brings benefits to all parties. The athletes do good things and become more popular, the fans can buy their desired NFTs, and vulnerable members of society get help.
Ethernity Chains is probably the best example of a charity organization working on blockchain. This platform is based on Ethereum, and its primary goal is to help the celebrities create authorized NFTs (A-NFT) or collectible cards for fundraising purposes. For instance, Ethernity Chain issues an official collection of A-NFT of Pelé, the money earned will go to the Pelé Foundation. This is a charity organization that provides poor children with education around the globe.
At the end of sales, Pele's sports NFTs raised $750,000, 90% of which went to charity. The remaining 10% were transaction fees (5%) and the Ethernity Chain platform (5%).