The sports world is adopting the crypto world. We have seen major leagues like the NBA, NFL, and MLB all signing deals with major crypto companies like Coinbase, Crypto.com, and FTX. For example, the Staples Center has been renamed the Crypto.com Arena and MLB umpires have the FTX logo on their uniform. When watching an NBA game, you'll see the Coinbase logo sported on the floor.
But what happens when you want to capture a historic moment in sports? You could take a photo or video. You could buy some merchandise or memorabilia.
What happens if these items get lost or stolen though? What about wear and tear over time?
There is a better way to cherish these moments with sports NFTs.
What are NFTs?
Before we dive into what sports NFTs are, let's first unpack what an NFT is.
NFT stands for non-fungible token. Bitcoin and fiat money are examples of fungibility. This means that there are no defining characteristics between one satoshi from the next or a dollar bill from the next.
Non-fungible tokens get their value because each one is unique. The value only increases when there is a finite amount. Many people love to collect and trade NFTs. Some see them more as bragging rights or a status symbol.
Non-fungible tokens can be represented with many files and mediums—text, video, photos, art, 3D models, tickets, virtual land, etc. When you buy an NFT on an NFT marketplace, you are really buying proof of ownership. This proof of ownership is visible to all via the blockchain.
Anytime an NFT is bought, sold, or changes hands, it is recorded on the blockchain.
What are Sports NFTs?
Sports NFTs are represented in many ways such as memorabilia, moments, tickets, autographs, paraphernalia, etc. They are the next logical step from trading cards. They of course present many advantages over the traditional way of collecting (such as phony autographs and counterfeiting).
The sports industry is a massive one so it only makes sense for sports-oriented NFTs to hold high value.
Let's break down some examples of the different categories of what sports NFTs can offer.
🃏 Trading Cards and Collectibles
Trading cards and collectibles are a natural progression from conventional trading cards. This concept will help those who are new to the space to wrap their minds around NFTs. Due to NFT and blockchain technology, sports collectibles are now digital.
For example, NBA Top Shot is one of the more popular NFT sports trading card platforms. Users can buy, sell, own, trade, and collect video clips of NBA players. Depending on the players involved and play, this could mean some serious crypto.
Other than heading to a platform like NBA Top Shot to perform your NFT trades, why not go directly to the source? Some athletes like Tom Brady are selling their own NFT collections. The G.O.A.T.'s collection is up on NFT marketplace Autograph (co-founded by him). Other athletes like Tony Hawk, Simone Biles, and Wayne Gretzky also house their NFT collections on Autograph.
Are you one of those people who like to hold onto tickets after a sporting event? That's essentially what sports NFT tickets are. They are like a memory that hold monetary value. Depending on what game it was, that value could rise over time and the ticket would then become a collectible or a piece of memorabilia.
Tickets and NFTs also could fight against counterfeit ticketing and scalpers. A market could also be carved out to properly sell tickets based on supply, demand, and hype.
Photos are yet another avenue for sports NFTs. Athletes could sell their childhood sports photos or anything else they feel others would find worthy.
Of course, anyone who is connected to the athlete or has a photo of them could mint an NFT too.
Do you find yourself watching YouTube videos of your favorite player and their highlights? Now with sports NFTs, you could own that very footage! As mentioned, NBA Top Shot allows users to come in and own NBA-licensed basketball plays. Those Kobe Bryant high school plays are probably worth a fortune.
🪙 Fan Tokens
Fan tokens offer a unique vantage point for fans. Sports teams and clubs could offer unique tokens to their fans that would open up a closer connection. For example, a team could issue fan tokens that allow them to provide direction for their team. The tokens could also grant access to VIP access such as private camera angles, mic 'd-up players, autographs, limited-edition jerseys, or engagement in the Metaverse. From the team's perspective, it is a way to generate income and create loyalty.
Sports clubs could also use NFTs for charitable reasons. The NFT would be sold for fundraising purposes, the fan would have a collectible in their possession, and awareness would raise around a social issue. This is a win-win-win scenario for all parties involved.
The gaming and crypto world go hand in hand. A natural progression from sports and gaming is e-sports. NFTs create a way for fans to feel closer to their favorite e-sports athletes. By holding an e-sports NFT you could gain access to private video chats, display your ownership as you play, and much more.
Platforms and Marketplaces
🏀 NBA Top Shot
NBA Top Shot is one of the most popular examples of a sports NFT platform and marketplace. The NBA developed the platform with Dapper Labs (creators of the ERC-721 standard and CryptoKitties).
Users can buy video moments and open packs (similar to how you'd receive them in the traditional sense).
NBA Top Shot runs on the Flow blockchain.
🏈 NFL All Day
NFL All Day is the NFL version of NBA Top Shot—also created by Dapper Labs. On the platform, you can buy, sell, trade, and collect highlights from the league. Attendees of Super Bowl LVI received an NFT from NFL All Day.
Candy is MLB's answer to NFTs. Baseball fans can now take their baseball card collection to new heights. Rather than a static baseball card and heading to conventions for trading, this can all be done online. Fans will love the photos and videos of the iconic plays too.
For the European football league, there is Sorare. Soccer fans will love playing the trading card game on the platform. It plays as a fantasy football league.
💪🏻 UFC Strike
Dapper Labs has also struck a deal with the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). Users will open packs of virtual NFT video clips.
What NFTs Mean to the Athletes
We tend to think of sports NFTs from the collector or investors' side, but what about the athletes themselves?
NFTs allow athletes to interact with their fans on a more personal level. They can offer exclusive items or a meet-and-greet. Athletes can also view NFTs as another way to generate income and increase their clout and celebrity status.
Famous athletes like Tom Brady, LeBron James, and Serena Williams are all promoting their NFT projects.
Sports NFTs and Beyond
What does the future hold for sports NFTs? As a massive industry, expect a lot. Collectors enter a new digital landscape that looks very promising. As technology in the sports world improves, so will the fans' experience. We're rooting for sports NFTs to win.