Just as cryptocurrencies have boomed in recent years, we are now witnessing a new craze that is also related to blockchain – NFTs. These are the tokens that athletes, artists, celebrities, and influencers not only issue and sell, but also use to provide unforgettable experiences to their fans.
While we do not have extrasensory abilities to predict the future, we are willing to dive into the concept of NFT right now in order to analyse the possibilities of this technology and figure out what can currently be tokenized in the sports industry. Without further ado, let’s get this party started!
What are NFTs and how did the craze for these tokens start?
NFT is an abbreviation for non-fungible token, which is a unit of data stored on the blockchain. Unlike Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, each token here certifies that a digital asset is unique and thus cannot be replaced with another.
When Ethereum, one of the leading blockchains, added support for NFTs as part of the new ERC-721 standard, they became technically possible. This is the primary reason that the vast majority of NFT tokens are built on the Ethereum blockchain platform.
The NFT first gained popularity in 2017 with the introduction of CryptoKitties. People’s obsession with cats is nothing new, but such an obsession with digital kittens may come as a surprise to some. Dapper Labs’ CryptoKitties is a virtual blockchain game that allows players to adopt, raise, and trade virtual cats.Each kitten is unique, 100% owned by the player, and cannot be replicated, taken away, or destroyed.
Despite the fact that CryptoKitties was also built on the Ethereum blockchain, the network quickly became congested and was unable to meet the high demand of NFT enthusiasts. As a result, developers decided to build their own blockchain, which would be easier to scale and would allow them to lower transaction costs.
The Flow blockchain has emerged as another option for developing decentralised applications, particularly those involving NFTs, games, and digital collectibles.
A lot has happened since then, and NFTs have evolved from a niche hobby to a true global obsession.Nowadays, an NFT can be used to represent artwork, concert tickets, social media posts, photos, GIFs, videos, audio, and other things that you could never imagine being tokenized.
The value that NFTs represent to sportspeople and their fans
Any fan, whether they are a fan of a music band, a football team, or the Harry Potter books, enjoys collecting merch and memorabilia and will jump at the chance to attend a Meet & Greet, a concert, or a match (as soon as the pandemic is over). As a result, it’s only natural that die-hard fans and collectors are enamoured with NFTs.
The NFT concept appears to be a natural fit for the sports industry. The NBA is well aware of this: since the start of the public beta phase in October 2020, their NBA Top Shot platform has generated $500 million in sales and over 800,000 users.
NBA Top Shot is a blockchain-based trading card system where basketball fans can purchase, sell, and trade officially licensed video highlights (“moments”) with their favorite players.
Benefits for fans
Let’s say you bought an NFT that has Michael Jordan’s slam dunk attached to it. What will you gain from this purchase?
By purchasing this moment from NBA Top Shot, you do not obtain the copyright to it and are not permitted to use it outside of the blockchain. Furthermore, the token cannot be loaned or divided into parts. The buyer can only do what the current owners, in this case, the NBA and Dapper Labs, allow.
Now you might be wondering why such platforms are still THAT popular and are attracting more and more fans. This is a very logical question, and the answer is that you can buy and keep moments in your collection knowing that you’re the only one with the official version of the highlight.
In general, we can easily obtain the files we desire, often for free, but their exclusivity is what makes them valuable. Blockchain records and securely stores information about the item you purchased, as well as information about the item’s creator. For fans and collectors, such purchases are comparable to purchasing a writer’s manuscript or an original painting.
For some, having a unique NFT backed by a real item is a joy and an unforgettable emotional experience as well.
Benefits for athletes
NFTs provide a new monetization model that is more beneficial to athletes and their fans than advertising or sponsorship. It is also a new way to connect with fans and offer them a one-of-a-kind experience, such as the ability to purchase one-of-a-kind items, photos from personal archives, and even a ticket to an in-person meeting.
Indeed, we are witnessing a generation that values digital assets as much as physical ones, so it should come as no surprise that people are eager to buy digital photos or GIFs rather than downloading them for free, especially when they know they are owning something unique.
The collectible card business, for example, is defined by the physical scarcity of cards. Scarcity, combined with authenticity, draws fans in and allows athletes to get closer to them.
Furthermore, launching an NFT project provides leagues and athletes with another marketing opportunity. They can create NFTs and treat them as another type of eCommerce, only with a lot more potential applications, just like they sell official league and team merchandise.
All in all, NFTs are a win-win innovation for both athletes and their fans.
Why are NFTs so expensive and growing in price?
When a collector purchases an extremely expensive stamp, painting, or coin, we may wonder why people are willing to pay such exorbitant prices for these items. However, this has become the norm because we have become accustomed to the notion that original, one-of-a-kind, and famous physical items are valuable and can be resold for even greater sums.
Authenticity, one-of-a-kindness, scarcity, and popularity make any item extremely valuable and, as a result, expensive. Nothing changes in the case of NFTs, except for the technology and method of storing information about the authenticity and purchase of a product.
Because NFTs are based on blockchain technology, you can check and verify the item’s authenticity, increasing its value. As a result, fans and collectors can purchase authentic (mostly digital) items without leaving their homes, and they avoid the risk of purchasing a counterfeit product.
Today, artists, celebrities, actors, and athletes tokenize their paintings, songs, collectible game cards, and even tweets in order to not only earn money but also to protect their copyrights. For example, if you purchase a video clip, you do not receive broadcast rights or a physical copy of that clip. In fact, the buyer owns a few lines of code, but they are proof and a kind of digital certificate that they’re the owner of the unique digital asset.
If the NFT includes a personal meeting with a famous athlete, a ticket to a match, or a Meet & Greet, then the value of this token will, of course, also increase.
NFTs in the sports field: what do we tokenize?
Many athletes, celebrities, and influencers have set their sights on the NFT craze and want to be a part of it as well. Statistics gathered from NFT marketplaces on the Ethereum blockchain show a fairly large number of sales made just within a month, from April 15 to May 15: a total of 52,752 tokens sold, with $11.4 million spent on completed sales. Impressive, right?
Let’s find out what exactly leagues and athletes can turn into non-fungible tokens and how they can ride the NFT wave.
Games and collectible cards
As a league or team, you have the option of creating your own marketplace to sell your sports club’s exclusive collection of NFT cards. You can also create an online game in which NFT cardholders compete against each other, or you can team up and host virtual competitions.
If an athlete wishes to issue collectible game cards, they can arrange for a special photo shoot and have exclusive photos placed on them. Another idea is to create trading cards that feature highlights from their career. All cards must have different images and be one-of-a-kind.
Video clips and GIFs
When we think of an outstanding athlete, we often recall the highlights of their career or famous pre-game rituals such as the LeBron James’s chalk toss. Imagine that these unique moments could be converted into high-value NFTs and end up in a fan’s digital collection.
NBA Top Shot: digital cards with highlights
The idea of issuing NFTs with highlights has already been implemented in the NBA Top Shot platform. Here’s how the process goes: first, the NBA cuts the moments, and Dapper Labs, the platform developer, decides which ones they’re going to sell. Then they put each highlight into digital packs and sell them on the website.
The cost of every moment depends on the quality of the video, the player’s stardom level, and the exclusivity of the card. Once a fan buys a pack, these videos go into their wallet for “showcase” or they can resell them on the NBA Top Shot Marketplace.
SportsIcon: NFTs with iconic moments
Another NFT platform SportsIcon has recently completed a funding round led by former NBA champion Andrew Bogut and Roham Gharegozlou, CEO of Dapper Labs. YouTube creator and former CEO Chad Hurley was on the list of investors as well. SportsIcon plans to partner with a variety of athletes to develop NFTs of iconic moments from their sports careers. NFTs will be attached to existing footage as well as exclusive content created by athletes and digital artists.
Photos and personal files
An athlete or a team can convert photos from their personal archives that have not previously been published on the Internet into NFTs. These can be childhood photos, early training days, performances, or a first football game. This adds value and exclusivity to the token for fans and other potential buyers.
Good news for sports photographers – you can sell your work as an NFT and still retain copyright and reproduction rights. Even after the photo is sold, you can continue to show it on social media, sell prints with it, and so on.
Warriors’ collection of rings and ticket stubs
San Francisco-based NBA team the Golden State Warriors have done just that; they have released their own NFT collection of limited edition digital versions of championship rings and ticket stubs. “You saw the games, you celebrated the Championships. Now own a piece of history,” tweeted Warriors.
The NFT collection consists of Warriors Championship Ring NFTs and Commemorative Ticket Stubs NFTs designed by artist Black Madre.
Warriors didn’t stop at just selling their collectibles, but decided to reward their fans with an exceptional experience. The bidder who purchases the first edition of each ring will receive a corresponding physical Warriors Championship Ring. If a fan buys all six NFT rings and completes the entire set, they will unlock a Warriors Championship Banner NFT.
As for the ticket stubs, the highest bidder will take part in a Warrior-for-a-Day event that includes the opportunity to sign a mock one-day contract with the team and receive tickets for two to the Warriors home game. Fans who buy all 10 ticket stubs and collect the whole set will unlock the Warriors Historic Moment Showcase NFT.
Basically, it’s memorabilia + making amazing memories that fans will never forget.
Meet & Greet, online or in-person meetings
Getting to a Meet & Greet or any other meeting, online or offline, is the ultimate dream for every fan. Meanwhile, for an athlete, this is a great way to interact with their fans and pay them back for their support.
If you would like to hold a Meet & Greet – a meeting with a group of your supporters (up to 15 people), you can issue NFTs that will serve as tickets for this event. These NFTs cannot be copied or exchanged, so sports fans will have a unique chance to participate in a meeting where they can ask their favorite athletes questions, chat, and take pictures.
The same goes for online and in-person exclusive meetings. An online meeting is not the most preferred option for fans, of course, but during the global pandemic, even an experience like this will make athletes and their fans much happier. Sportspeople and exclusive token owners can communicate via Skype, Zoom, or other applications.
In addition, guest passes and show openings can also be tokenized and presented on marketplaces.
NFT for charity
Famous athletes can issue various NFTs and donate the proceeds to charity organizations and those in need. This is a win-win situation from all angles: NFT collectors and sports fans can acquire the desired items, while the most vulnerable members of society can receive significant help.
And even more options for tokenization!
As more and more athletes and celebrities join the NFT world, the number of options in terms of what can be tokenized and sold as NFTs has been increasing, too.
You thought that was all? Certainly not! We will continue and briefly introduce you to other ideas for NFT potential applications.
Today, the small favor of giving an autograph can offer a fan much more than just the pleasure of owning it. In terms of non-fungible tokens, sportspeople can create personalized NFT autographs addressed exclusively to their most dedicated supporters. Later, the fans may consider these digital autographs as an investment, or keep them in their priceless collections.
Avatars, stickers, and emojis
Athletes, sports teams, and leagues can turn to a graphic designer to create cartoon avatars, stickers, and emojis that can also be animated. Once tokenized, they can be purchased by sports fans in NFT form.
Drawings, paintings, and animations
To popularize the NFT market and promote their own team or a brand, an athlete can create original drawings, paintings, or animated pictures. When it is made with your hands and is one of a kind, it will be of high value and in demand.
Quotes and social media posts
Even quotes can become NFTs, but they should be bright and memorable. The athlete’s quote may also be accompanied by a photo/GIF/video clip from the personal archive. Thus, the token will represent a unique and rare digital item that fans will be willing to buy. Social media posts can be traded as NFT tokens as well. The owner of such a token gets the right to own the post.
Tickets and packages
A one-of-a-kind NFT ticket will serve as a pass to a variety of events, including games and visits to the stadium during rehearsals and training. Fans can simply buy an NFT ticket, but doing so can be stressful because only the fastest buyers will get one. Another option is to auction off the tickets. In this case, the highest bidder will be awarded a pass to a specific event.
NFT packages can also be sold by leagues, teams, and athletes. Several NFT products, such as an autograph + a photo with an athlete, collectible game card + in-person meeting, memorabilia + online meeting, and so on, will be combined in this set.
The options for minting NFTs do not end there, as generally any idea a sports team or individual athlete has in mind can easily be brought to life.
The NFT market is evolving at a breakneck pace. We are currently witnessing a real boom in NFTs, with many famous athletes, celebrities, artists, and designers from all over the world jumping on board.
NFTs now allow athletes to promote their own names while also unlocking new opportunities and ideas for interacting with fans. This is a chance for sports fans to get their hands on digital collectibles and one-of-a-kind physical items, as well as meet their favourite athlete.
Despite the fact that NFT is still a very “young” technology, it already appears to be very promising, as it provides athletes and creators with advantages they could never have imagined before. Given that the NFT craze does not appear to be abating, it would be a travesty to drop the ball and not consider giving NFTs a try.
We at Brugu Software Solutions are not newbies who have just started playing on the NFT sports field. With extensive knowledge and experience in blockchain technology and the development of non-fungible tokens, we are willing to help athletes, sports teams, and innovators who are looking to start their NFT journey.
Contact us and we will be happy to provide you with a variety of tokenization solutions as well as assist you in customising NFTs for special events and occasions. We will ensure that you implement an NFT project that will delight your team and fans!