A major aspect of cryptocurrencies that often gets overlooked is the relationship that the crypto industry has with the world of sports. Whether it be combat-oriented sports such as the UFC, to more traditional sports such as football, baseball, soccer, and basketball, to unconventional options such as gaming and e-sports, crypto is now playing an important part in various ways such as through NFTs, fan tokens and perhaps most importantly, sponsorship deals.
This makes sense, too, as both worlds have a lot to offer one another, with the sports industry often needing funds and new sponsors, and the crypto industry is always on the lookout for increased adoption and exposure.
Many years ago, in 2014, Bitpay (a BTC payment provider) had signed a deal with ESPN in order to officially sponsor a college-level football game, namely the relatively popular St. Petersburg Bowl. While this deal was not the biggest, it was nevertheless perhaps the most important as it marked the very 1st time in history that a sport-crypto deal had been reached. Fast forward to 2021, and cryptocurrencies have not only begun to sponsor major teams such as the Dallas Mavericks and the New York Giants, but the industry had also recently sponsored the highly-anticipated fight between Connor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. The New York Giants had actually been the initial team to be fully endorsed through a cryptocurrency sponsorship, wherein Grayscale Investments had been made a partner.
Furthermore, cryptocurrency exchanges, as well as various payment providers, had comprised the majority of the sports sponsorships, which highlighted the substantial crossover between increased crypto adoption and sports fans. In fact, certain teams are even allowing the fans to make ticket purchases via cryptocurrencies, such as Oakland A’s offering, which provided a complete season suite, all for 1 BTC in 2021.
Another key aspect of the relationship between sports and crypto is that of NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Sports fans can now utilize blockchain technology to add value via collectible NFTs. NFTs are assets that can enable creators to successfully tokenize digital collectibles, art, or any type of asset using the Internet. Furthermore, NFTs are also useful because these tokens allow for the aforementioned blockchain technology to provide provable ownership of the users’ digital assets.
One example is that of the NBA, which has successfully utilized NFTs due to the organization being involved with NBA Top Shot, a platform for digital collectible cards constructed using the FLOW blockchain.