Sports is being involved with cryptocurrency and is being accepted by everyone.
Cryptocurrencies and sports continue to clash in 2021 as well, with the synergies between the two proving to be beneficial on several fronts. The relationship between the world of sports and the various uses of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology has slowly developed in recent years. The humble beginnings of a humble sponsorship that built initial brand awareness for an exchange and payments platform has grown to global recognition and collaboration across sectors, with a wide range of applications emerging in 2021.
From NBA basketball courts to soccer fields in Europe, crypto is constantly building new users and markets. In this New Year's special, crypto is emphasized the growing connection between crypto and sports through 2021.
This is NFT
Indispensable token (NFT) has become a common word in the last 12 months. The entertainment industry is at the forefront of this expansion with artists, musicians, celebrities, brands, institutions and content creators plunging headlong into the NFT craze to cater to fans and collectors of their own unique digital collection.
Sport has always been a mainstay of the entertainment industry, offering unparalleled and unrecorded moments that leave an indelible mark on fans around the world. In the past, unique collectibles and souvenirs ensured that happy fans could brag to their friends and family. The advent of NFT has turned this into a digital domain where enthusiasts can buy, trade and display valuable NFTs on blockchain based marketplaces and platforms.
The NBA has paved the way in that regard by turning video highlights from seasonal games into NFT collectibles that generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue through the NBA's top shot platform. The most expensive NBA Top Shot NFT, a legendary card with the murder of LeBron James, sold for a staggering $230,000 in October 2020. These numbers are nothing to laugh at. And it only gets better in 2021. The world of American football has reached the level of players and teams. Tom Brady has written NFL history books and has become a prominent figure in the business and entertainment world as a by-product of his success on the field.
He made headlines in April and launched his own NFT marketplace called Autograph. The platform engages the biggest names in American sport, as well as influential people from around the world, from Hollywood actors, musicians, and other entertainment characters to explore and sell unique digital collections. We're talking golf great Tiger Woods, sprint sensation Usain Bolt, skateboard icon Tony Hawk, US gymnast Simone Bailes, and of course Brady himself, who are offering their own unique NFT to collectors around the world.
Brady's longtime partner in the NFL in crime, Rob Gronkowski, raised the bar with his own auction of the NFT Championship Series digital trading card prior to the release of Autograph. The series consists of four unique GRONK Career Refractory Cards, each with 87 digital editions for sale, while the fifth stand-alone career focus card is a lottery gift card.
The auction lasted two days and a total of 349 dealer cards and unique career highlight cards from 95 different owners were auctioned. The total auction trade value at the time of sale was 1,014 ether (ETH) worth $1.8 million. Gronk joins Autograph in bringing other NFTs to market. Briton Tyson Fury has emerged as the top heavyweight in recent times following another crushing loss to Deontay Wilder in October. Following that success, the British boxer great released his own NFT, which was auctioned off for $987,000.
In Europe, Sorare has established himself as a well-known player in NFT football and fantasy sports. The Ethereum-powered marketplace makes it easy to extract and trade NFTs, which are very popular with football fans. Consumers can buy and trade digital playing cards that reflect the real-life performance of their players. Collectors can collect five teams consisting of their digital cards from players competing in fantasy leagues.
Socios is another big player in the world of European NFT football, digital trading cards and collectibles. The platform allows clubs to issue fan tokens on their own blockchain, allowing fans to vote on club decisions such as changes to kits, access to exclusive content and other community activities. By 2021, Socios had sold $250 million worth of fan tokens since its inception, while the market cap of the Sports Fan token space has grown 60% over the last six months of the year.
Sports brands also want to keep up with the times, and the rise of Metaverse has propelled two of the world's biggest sports brands into space thanks to strategic partnerships with industry players. Adidas has entered the NFT space by bypassing NFT, which will serve as a digital token giving Metaverse users access to Adidas digital wearables. The NFT consists of 30,000 copies, mostly tokens, which are sold at auction. Its first weekend sold over 11,300 ETH, worth $43 million at the time, as Metaverse users flocked to snatch their Adidas.
Determined to keep up with its rivals, Nike followed suit and acquired RTFKT, one of Opensea's largest NFT collections, to bring wearables and Nike's own merchandise to the ever-expanding Metaverse.
Viewed by millions
Marketing and advertising is big business, and the world of sports has long been an important means of reaching large audiences for products, services and offerings. Big brands have been doing this to great effect for decades, and cryptocurrency companies and service providers have taken full advantage of this recently. The Crypto.com brand is on the football pitch of Europe's premier leagues, in the popular UFC octagon, and following the captivating Formula 1 roadshow. The company has signed sponsorship agreements with leagues, teams and organizations in all of these areas to create a diverse and large audience reach.
- Cryptocurrency trader and entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Freud and his cryptocurrency trading platform FTX are also on good terms with American sports this year. FTX acquired the Miami Heat Stadium naming rights in early 2021 in a $135 million deal that runs until 2040 to attract new users.
- Coinbase, America's largest cryptocurrency exchange, dealt a major blow to the NBA after signing a multi-year deal to become the exclusive partner of the league's cryptocurrency platform and its various subsidiaries, leagues and associated brands.
- Rugby is a popular sport in South Africa and the country's national springbok team has a strong position as the current world champions. As the British and Irish Lions explore South Africa, cryptocurrency exchange Luno places an ad in which Springbok rugby director Rassi Erasmus trains viewers "how easy it is to deal with Bitcoin" as the exchange seems to attract a large audience on its platform.
This is a great example of local and global advertising bringing cryptocurrency to a wider audience, which will only bring more people into the space that he hopes will be massively accepted in the coming decades. There is a good foundation on this front in 2021.
Convert that $ to BTC
A number of sports stars have started to pave the way for people to receive or distribute a portion of their salary to receive or buy cryptocurrencies.
NFL players are back in the headlines with a post from Odell Beckham Jr. and Aaron Rodgers, Trevor Lawrence and Saquan Barkley on Receiving or Investing in Cryptocurrencies. Tom Brady is back here after acquiring a stake in Bankman-Frieds FTX, which apart from working as a brand ambassador for the company, also accepts payments in cryptocurrency.
In Australia, baseball club Perth Heath signed a contract with payment processor OpenNode Bitcoin to pay some of its BTC players and staff. Again, adoption takes place in a decentralized part of the world.
Weird and beautiful
There have been cases where cryptocurrency and the world of sports have collided. Tom Brady is mentioned a third time, and for just as well. In October, Brady became the first NFL quarterback in history to make 600 touchdown passes. He hit the ball to his teammate Mike Evans, who scored. The Buccaneers wide receiver threw the ball into the crowd after scoring and handed a priceless souvenir to a lucky fan.
During the game, a staff member managed to talk to fans and Brady continued to offer 1 Bitcoin (BTC) to lucky viewers to return the historic ball. That 1 BTC costs $62,000 while the estimated value of the actual ball completing the runway is between $500,000 and $1 million. Not all is good news with a few crashes in 2021. Manchester City and Barcelona, famous in their respective leagues, had to go out of business with smaller cryptocurrency companies for various reasons, which serves as a reminder that there is still the space is still in its infancy and some projects and companies may not offer the products and services they want to offer.
Spanish football legend Andres Iniesta has been warned online by Spanish regulators not to promote Binance on his Twitter and Instagram accounts. The National Securities and Exchange Commission (CNMV) warned hours later in a tweet in response to the "significant risks from unregulated products". That's pretty harmless, but it does show that the integration of cryptocurrencies and related branches into the world of sports can sometimes border on the unknown. Some things worked fantastically and gained traction while others didn't have the same success, but the adoption train is still on.