The sports industry post-pandemic has found several ways to connect deeper with fans. Among these new tools, the most radical change is the addition of blockchain-based digital collectibles called non-fungible tokens or NFTs. 

These not only provide an excellent way for sports stars to monetize their likeness, but they also revolutionize how they connect with fans.

The growth of NFTs is more than a simple fad. This can be a legitimate way to add to athletes’ merchandise without spending too much overhead on production. 

Here’s how NFTs in sports change how athletes make money and create a more tight-knit fandom.

What Are Non-Fungible Tokens?

To understand the impact of NFTs, we need to know what they are. Non-fungible tokens or NFTs are digital assets that sit on the blockchain. 

These are called non-fungible because they have a unique ID associated with them. Every NFT is unique and cannot be replicated due to security measures attached to each one.

For starters, there is a ledger that lists the ownership for the token. There can only ever be one owner for the token, but this is transferable to different owners once the token is sold. 

This can help you ensure that you’re getting a legit NFT minted by the athlete or the organization that the athlete works with.

A non-fungible token can be anything that includes a type of media. These can be videos, images, art, clips, memes, or even collectibles. 

NFTs for athletes usually come in the form of trading cards, highlights, personal photos, and other digital assets that anyone would love to have.

Many major sports organizations are trying to cash in on the hype of NFTs. 

With so much capital flooding the market, as well as interest from the public, NFTs are helping athletes take advantage of their name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights. This gives them more ways to monetize themselves and bring more digital collectibles to the fans.

Major sporting organizations have already taken up several NFT projects to get fans started on collecting NFTs. These organizations include the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, UFC, and WWE, with the biggest partner for these companies being Dapper Labs.

The most famous NFT project for athletes right now is NBA Top Shot, which is a marketplace where fans can buy specific NFT collectibles. 

These can be NBA highlight reels and even NBA-related digital items called “Moments.” NBA Top Shot is so profitable that it has broken the $500 million barrier since its launch in 2019.

Another famous NFT app right now is Sorare, a fantasy soccer league played on a global scale. The application has already signed with more than 100 soccer clubs from all over the world, with teams like FC Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and Liverpool FC on their roster.

One powerful way that sports-related NFTs impact the sports industry is the collectible aspect of these assets. Much like trading cards, every minted NFT is rare in its own right. 

Fans who buy and collect these NFTs can eventually create a way to earn money while supporting their favorite athletes.

A way for fans to earn money from buying sports NFTs is to buy undervalued digital assets from other collectors or marketplaces. 

Much like purchasing a trading card, fans would want to sit on the collectible and enjoy for its value to increase. Fans can then sell these for-profit, usually around 30 to 100% of their original value.

Like NBA Top Shots, some marketplaces also do limited edition pack drops that release one-of-a-kind moments to its buyers. In these packs, you can stumble upon potentially high-value cards like a rare Stephen Curry or LeBron James moments that people would love to buy.

The higher the value of the moment, the rarer people believe it is. As NFTs rely on their audience’s perceived product value, more iconic moments offer the highest value, especially for fans. 

These can be anything like a game-winning shot, a record-breaking attempt, or an athlete signing with a franchise.

NFTs give athletes and the sports industry a distinct advantage. These benefits extend even to new and upcoming stars and athletes. NFTs are a fantastic monetization option for college-level athletes like those from the NCAA, who are not paid salaries by their respective teams.

If you are an upcoming five-star recruit, you can monetize your personality, as well as your image and likeness. You can contact an agency, do a product shoot and perform advertising for your NFT. 

The process is easy and straightforward, so athletes can do everything by themselves and cut off any middlemen.

You also directly serve your fanbase, and for college prospects, this will likely be a small but loyal base. As the number of fans grows, the NFTs will increase in rarity. You can also make unique videos that fans won’t find anywhere else.

Athletes can shoot birthday message videos that talk straight to fans. You can set a greeting message for your fandom and sell that NFT straight to those who are willing to pay top dollar for unique personalized tokens. 

You can even do NFT auctions and not pass through traditional auction houses.

NFTs are transforming the sports industry by creating a level of connection with fans of the sport and athletes in general. The value of NFTs, as we said, comes from exclusivity and scarcity. 

Athletes now have more chances to create collectibles and even introduce their own digital platforms that don’t share a cut with agents and organizations.

They can even introduce fan tokens that provide special privileges to fans. These privileges can include VIP treatments, unique products, and fan packs. 

Those with fan tokens can also pitch their input on team jersey designs and other special privileges. They are also transferable to whoever holds onto the fan token, so these have a type of resale value.

Fans can even get unique NFT tokens for virtual real estate in the team. Owning a seat at a virtual stadium can provide access to exclusive stadium events, as well as more meetups and connections with their favorite athletes. 

It can even help with dealing with ticket fraud and scalpers trying to sell high-value tickets.

Non-fungible tokens or NFTs in sports offer a perfect marriage of digital innovation, athletes, and better fan interactions. 

NFT will pervade the sports industry and become one of the best ways to create digital collectibles for everyone. 

Beyond a monetization scheme, NFTs will continue to add more value to the sports industry. It will usher in a more digital future for an era of sports that is more connected to its fans more than ever.


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