Just as cryptocurrencies have boomed in recent years, we are now seeing a new trend that is also related to blockchain – NFTs. These are tokens that athletes, artists, celebrities and influencers not only spend and sell, but also use to provide memorable experiences for their fans.

Although we do not have psychic abilities to predict the future, we are willing to look into the concept of NFT to analyze the possibilities of this technology and find out what can currently be tokenized in the sports industry. Without further ado, let us get this party started!

What are NFTs and how did the craze for these tokens start?

NFT is short for a 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 therefore cannot be replaced by 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 main reason why the vast majority of NFT tokens are built on the Ethereum blockchain platform.

NFT first gained popularity in 2017 with the launch of CryptoKitties. People’s obsession with cats is nothing new, but such an obsession with digital kitties may come as a surprise to some. CryptoKitties by Dapper Labs is a virtual blockchain game that allows players to adopt, raise and trade virtual cats. Each kitty is unique, 100% owned by the player, and cannot be replicated, taken away, or destroyed.

Although CryptoKitties was also built on the Ethereum blockchain, the network quickly became overloaded and was unable to meet the high demand from NFT enthusiasts. As a result, developers decided to create their own blockchain that would be easier to scale and allow them to reduce transaction costs.

The Flow blockchain became another option for developing decentralised applications, especially for NFTs, games, and digital collectibles.

A lot has happened since then, and NFTs have evolved from a niche hobby to a true global obsession. Today, an NFT can be used to represent artwork, concert tickets, social media posts, photos, GIFs, videos, audio files, and other things you never thought would be tokenized.

The value that NFTs represent to athletes and their fans.

Any fan, whether they are a fan of a music band, a soccer team, or the Harry Potter books, likes to collect fan merchandise and memorabilia and will jump at the chance to attend a meet & greet, concert, or game (once the pandemic is over). So it’s only natural that die-hard fans and collectors get excited about NFTs.

Example from the field

The NFT concept seems tailor-made for the sports industry. The NBA is well aware of this: since the launch of the public beta phase in October 2020, its NBA Top Shot platform has generated $500 million in revenue and over 800,000 users.

NBA Top Shot is a blockchain-based trading card system where basketball fans can buy, sell and trade officially licensed video highlights (“moments”) featuring their favorite players.

Advantages for fans

Let us say you bought an NFT that features Michael Jordan’s slam dunk. What do you get out of this purchase?

By buying this moment from NBA Top Shot, you do not get the copyright to it and you are not allowed to use it outside the blockchain. Moreover, the token cannot be lent or divided into parts. The buyer can only do what the current owners, in this case the NBA and Dapper Labs, allow.

Now you may wonder why such platforms are still popular that and attract more and more fans. This is a very logical question, and the answer is that you can buy moments and keep them in your collection, knowing that you are the only one who owns the official version of the highlight.

In general, we can easily get the files we want, often for free, but it is their exclusivity that makes them so valuable. In the blockchain, information about the purchased item, as well as about its creator, is recorded and stored securely. For fans and collectors, such purchases are comparable to buying a writer’s manuscript or an original painting.

For some, owning a unique NFT associated with a genuine item is a joy and an unforgettable emotional experience.

Advantages for athletes

NFTs offer a new monetization model that is more beneficial to athletes and their fans than advertising or sponsorship. It’s also a new way to connect with fans and provide them with a unique experience, such as the ability to purchase unique items, photos from personal archives and even a ticket to a face-to-face meeting.

Indeed, we are witnessing a generation that values digital goods as much as physical ones, so it is not surprising that people prefer to buy digital photos or GIFs rather than download them for free, especially if they know they own something unique.

The trading card business, for example, is driven by the physical scarcity of the cards. Rarity combined with authenticity attracts fans and allows athletes to get closer to them.

In addition, launching an NFT project gives leagues and athletes another marketing opportunity. They can create NFTs and treat them like another type of eCommerce, only with many more applications, just as 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 getting more expensive?

When a collector acquires 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 idea that original, unique, and famous physical objects are valuable and can be resold for even higher sums.

Authenticity, uniqueness, rarity and popularity make any item extremely valuable and therefore expensive. With NFTs, nothing changes except the technology and the method of storing information about the authenticity and purchase of a product.

Since NFTs are based on blockchain technology, you can check and verify the authenticity of the item, which increases its value. This way, fans and collectors can buy authentic (mostly digital) items without leaving their homes, and they avoid the risk of buying a fake product.

Nowadays, artists, celebrities, actors, and athletes tokenize their paintings, songs, game trading cards, and even tweets not only to make money but also to protect their copyrights. For example, when you buy a video clip, you do not get the broadcast rights or a physical copy of the clip. Rather, the buyer owns a few lines of code, but they are proof and a kind of digital certificate that they are the owner of the unique digital asset.

Of course, if the NFT includes a personal meeting with a famous athlete, a ticket to a game, or a meet & greet, then the value of that token increases.

NFTs in sports: what do we reveal?

Many athletes, celebrities and influencers have taken aim at the NFT craze and want to be a part of it as well. Statistics collected from NFT marketplaces on the Ethereum blockchain show quite a large number of sales in just one month, from April 15 to May 15: a total of 52,752 tokens were sold and $11.4 million was spent on completed sales. Impressive, isn’t it?

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 collectibles

As a league or team, you have the option to create your own marketplace to sell your sports club’s exclusive NFT card collection. You can also create an online game where NFT cardholders compete against each other, or you can team up and host virtual competitions.

If an athlete wants to issue trading cards, they can arrange a special photo shoot and have exclusive photos placed on the cards. Another idea is to create trading cards with highlights from the athlete’s career. All cards must have different pictures and be unique.

Video clips and GIFs

When we think of an outstanding athlete, we often remember the highlights of their career or famous pre-game rituals like LeBron James’ chalk throw. Imagine if these unique moments could be turned into high-quality NFTs and end up in a fan’s digital collection.

NBA Top Shot: digital cards with highlights

The idea of displaying NFTs with highlights has already been implemented in the NBA Top Shot platform. Here’s how the process works: First, the NBA cuts out the moments, and Dapper Labs, the platform’s developer, decides which ones to sell. Then, each highlight is packaged into digital packages and sold on the website.

The price of each moment depends on the quality of the video, the notoriety of the player and the exclusivity of the card. Once a fan buys a package, the videos end up in their wallet or they can resell them on the NBA Top Shot Marketplace.

SportsIcon: NFTs with iconic momentsAnother NFT platform, SportsIcon, recently closed 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 also on the list of investors. SportsIcon plans to work with a number of athletes to develop NFTs of iconic moments from their sports careers. The NFTs will be attached to existing footage as well as exclusive content created by athletes and digital artists.

Photos and personal files

A person demonstrating an NFT marketplace on a phone

An athlete or team can convert photos from their personal archives that have not been previously published on the Internet into NFTs. These can be photos from childhood, the first days of training, performances or the first football game. This increases the value and exclusivity of the token for fans and other potential buyers.

Good news for sports photographers: you can sell your work as an NFT and still retain the copyright and reproduction rights. Even after the photo is sold, you can continue to share it on social media, sell prints of it, and so on.

Warriors collection of rings and ticket stubs.

The Golden State Warriors, an NBA team based in San Francisco, have released their own NFT collection of digital versions of limited edition championship rings and ticket stubs. “You have seen the games, you have celebrated the championships. Now you own a piece of history,” the Warriors tweeted.

The NFT collection consists of Warriors Championship Ring NFTs and Commemorative Ticket Stubs NFTs designed by artist Black Madre.

Not content with selling their collectibles, the Warriors 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. When a fan purchases all six NFT rings and completes the entire set, they unlock a Warriors Championship Banner NFT.

As for the ticket stubs, the highest bidder will be entered into a Warrior-for-a-Day event where they will have the opportunity to sign a fictitious one-day contract with the team and receive tickets for two to a Warriors home game. Fans who purchase all 10 ticket stubs and collect the entire set will unlock the Warriors Historic Moment Showcase NFT.

Basically, it’s all about memorabilia and great memories that fans will never forget.

Meet & Greet, online or face-to-face meetings.

A meet & greet or other meeting, online or offline, is the ultimate dream for any fan. For an athlete, this is a great way to interact with their fans and thank them for their support.

If you want to host a Meet & Greet – a get-together with a group of your fans (up to 15 people) – you can issue NFTs that serve as tickets to the event. These NFTs cannot be copied or exchanged, so sports fans have a unique opportunity to attend a meeting where they can ask their favorite athletes questions, chat and take photos.

The same is true for exclusive online and face-to-face meetings. An online meeting is obviously not the preferred option for fans, but in times of global pandemic, even such an experience will make athletes and their fans much happier. Athletes and exclusive token holders can communicate via Skype, Zoom or other applications.

In addition, guest tickets and tickets to shows can also be tokenized and offered on marketplaces.

NFT for charity

Famous athletes can give out various NFTs and donate the proceeds to charities and those in need. This is a win-win situation in every sense: NFT collectors and sports fans can acquire the items they want, while the most vulnerable members of society receive significant help.

And even more options for tokenization!

As more athletes and celebrities join the NFT world, the number of options for what can be tokenized and sold as NFTs also increases.

Thought that was all there was to it? Not at all! We will go ahead and briefly introduce you to more ideas for possible uses of NFT.

Digital autograph

The small favor of giving an autograph can offer a fan much more today than just the joy of owning it. As non-fungible tokens, athletes can create personalized NFT autographs exclusively for their most loyal fans. Later, fans can consider these digital autographs an investment or keep them in their priceless collection.

Avatars, stickers and emojis.

Athletes, sports teams and leagues can turn to a graphic designer to create avatars, stickers and emojis that can also be animated. Once tokenized, they can be purchased by sports fans in the form of NFT.

Drawings, paintings and animations

To popularize the NFT market and promote one’s team or brand, a sports fan can create original drawings, paintings or animated images. If they are made with their own hands and are unique, they have a high value and are in high demand.

Quotes and posts on social media

Quotes can also become NFTs, but they should be bright and memorable. The athlete’s quote can also be accompanied by a photo / GIF / video clip from their personal archives. In this way, the token becomes a unique and rare digital item that fans will be happy to buy. Posts on social media can also be traded as NFT tokens. The owner of such a token gets the right to own the post.

Tickets and packages

A unique NFT ticket serves as admission to a variety of events, including games and stadium visits during rehearsals and practises. Fans can simply buy an NFT ticket, but that can be stressful because only the fastest buyers get a ticket. Another option is to auction off the tickets. In this case, the highest bidder gets a ticket to a specific event.

NFT packages can also be sold by leagues, teams and athletes. These packages combine several NFT products, such as an autograph + a photo with an athlete, a trading card + a face-to-face meeting, memorabilia + an online meeting, etc.

The possibilities for minting NFTs are far from exhausted, because in general, any idea that a sports team or an individual athlete has in mind can easily be brought to life.

Conclusion

The NFT market is developing at a rapid pace. We are currently experiencing a real boom in NFTs with many famous athletes, celebrities, artists and designers from around the world on board.At Brugu, we are a leading blockchain development company. We have now transformed our services into NFT gaming solutions. Now we are the best in developing NFT Fantasy Sports marketplaces with 100% custom services.

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