Cryptocurrencies and sports continued to collide in 2021, with synergies between the two proving successful on several fronts.
The relationship between the world of sports and the various applications of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology has grown slowly over the past few years. The humble beginnings of simple sponsorships creating early brand awareness for exchanges and payment platforms have snowballed and evolved into global recognition and collaboration across industries, with 2021 seeing a variety of use cases. different appear.
From NBA basketball courts to soccer fields in Europe, the crypto continues to gain exposure to new users and markets. In this New Years special, Cointelegraph highlights the ever-growing relationship between crypto and sports through 2021.
Here are the NFTs
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have become a household word over the past 12 months. The entertainment industry has been at the forefront of this expansion with artists, musicians, celebrities, brands, institutions and content creators diving head first into the NFT craze to deliver fans and collectors their own unique digital collectibles.
Sports have always been a mainstay of the entertainment industry, providing unparalleled, unscripted moments that leave an indelible mark on fans around the world.
In the past, unique collectibles and memorabilia gave lucky fans the bragging rights of their friends and family. The emergence of NFTs has converted this into a digital realm where fans can acquire, trade and display valuable NFTs in blockchain-powered markets and platforms.
The NBA has led the way in this regard, turning video clips of seasonal games into NFT collectibles that have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue through the NBA Top Shot platform. The most expensive NBA Top Shot NFT, a legendary card with a Lebron James dunk, sold for $ 230,000 in October 2020. These numbers are not to be laughed at. And that only improved in 2021.
The world of American football has also entered the space at both the player and team level. Tom Brady has made his mark in the NFL history books and has become a dominant figure in business and entertainment as a by-product of his success on the court.
He made headlines in April by launching his own NFT marketplace called Autograph. The platform has integrated the biggest names in American sports, as well as influencers from the world of Hollywood actors, musicians and other entertainment personalities to create and sell unique digital collectibles.
We’re talking about great golfer Tiger Woods, sprinting sensation Usain Bolt, skateboarding icon Tony Hawk, American gymnast Simone Biles and, of course, Brady himself, all offering their own unique NFTs for collectors. of the whole world.
Coming next week on @Autograph: I’ve removed five signature tips, offering them in a collection that will last forever. Here’s one that I last did recently: the varial 540. This trick has caused me many whiplash in 30 years but I had to get it. @DraftKings pic.twitter.com/iK6T2vtTex
– Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) December 8, 2021
Brady’s longtime NFL partner Rob Gronkowski has set the bar high with his own Championship Series NFT digital collectible card auction ahead of Autograph’s launch. The series consisted of four unique ‘GRONK Career Highlight refractor cards’, each with 87 digital editions on sale, while a fifth standalone Career Highlight card was the prize card of the bundle.
The auction lasted for two days and saw a total of 349 collectible cards sold at auction, as well as the unique Career Highlight card to 95 different owners. The total auction market value was 1,014 Ether (ETH) valued at $ 1.8 million at the time of the sale. Gronk then joined Autograph to launch more NFTs.
England boxer Tyson Fury has established himself as the best heavyweight lately after another crushing defeat to Deontay Wilder in October. Following this success, the beefy British boxer launched his own NFT which was auctioned for $ 987,000.
In Europe, Sorare has established himself as a notable player in NFT football and the fantasy sports space. The Ethereum powered marketplace makes it easier to strike and trade NFTs which have been extremely popular among football fans. Users can purchase and redeem digital player cards that reflect their player’s actual performance. Collectors can put together a five-man squad made up of their digital player cards that compete against each other in fantastic leagues.
Socios is the other major player in the world of European football NFTs, digital trading cards and collectibles. The platform allows clubs to issue fan tokens on its proprietary blockchain which allows fans to vote on club decisions such as kit changes, access exclusive content and get involved in events. other community activities. In 2021, Socios has sold $ 250 million in fan tokens since its inception, while the market capitalization of the sports fan space has increased 60% in the last six months of the year.
Sports brands are also looking to keep up with the times, and the rise of the Metaverse has pushed two of the world’s biggest sports brands into the space through strategic partnerships with industry participants.
Adidas has entered the NFT space by creating an NFT that will serve as a digital token that will give Metaverse users access to Adidas digital clothing. The NFT consisted of 30,000 copies, mostly tokens, which were auctioned. Its opening weekend generated over 11,300 ETH in sales, worth $ 43 million at the time, as Metaverse users flocked to secure their Adidas loot.
Impossible is (probably) nothing
– adidas Originals (@adidasoriginals) 20 December 2021
Determined to keep pace with its competitors, Nike followed suit by acquiring RTFKT, one of the largest NFT collections on Opensea, to create its own Nike apparel and merchandise in the ever-growing Metaverse.
Seen by millions
Marketing and advertising are big business and the world of sports has long been a preferred medium for reaching large audiences to market products, services and offerings. Big brands have been doing this for decades with great success, and cryptocurrency companies and service providers are taking full advantage of this lately.
Crypto.com’s branding can be seen on the football pitches of Europe’s biggest leagues, inside the ever-popular UFC Octagon and on the circuits of the captivating Formula 1 roadshow. signed sponsorship agreements with leagues, teams and organizations in all these spaces to reach a diverse and wide audience.
Cryptocurrency trader and entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried and his cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform FTX have also enjoyed a good relationship with American sport this year. FTX acquired the naming rights for Miami Heat Stadium in early 2021 in a $ 135 million deal that will last until 2040.
From our family to yours ❤️ pic.twitter.com/oHMg9VPIWF
– FTX Arena (@FTXArena) December 25, 2021
The exchange also secured prime-time commercial airtime for the 2022 NFL Super Bowl, one of America’s biggest sporting events, as it seeks to attract new users.
Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, has taken a big hit with the NBA after reaching a multi-year agreement to be the exclusive partner of the league’s cryptocurrency platform and its various subsidiaries, leagues and associated brands.
Rugby is a very popular sport in South Africa and the country’s Springbok national team has a great support base being the reigning world champions. When the British and Irish Lions visited South Africa, the Luno cryptocurrency exchange ran an ad featuring Springboks rugby director Rassie Erasmus, coaching viewers on ‘how easy it is. to take on Bitcoin, ”as the exchange sought to target a large base of viewers to start trading cryptocurrencies on its platform.
This is a prime example of localized and global advertising bringing cryptocurrencies to a wider audience, which will only introduce more people to a space that hopes to go into mass adoption in the decades to come. . 2021 has seen significant groundwork on this front.
Convert that $ to BTC
A number of sports stars have started to clear the way for people to start accepting or allocating a portion of their salary towards receiving or purchasing cryptocurrency.
NFL players have once again made headlines with contributions from Odell Beckham Jr and Aaron Rodgers, Trevor Lawrence and Saquon Barkley by receiving or investing in cryptocurrencies.
Related: 7 NFL players who chose crypto over cash wages
Tom Brady reappears here after acquiring a stake in Bankman-Fried’s FTX that will allow him to receive cryptocurrency payments in addition to being a brand ambassador for the company.
In Australia, Perth Heat Baseball Club signed an agreement with Bitcoin payment processor OpenNode to pay some of their players and staff in BTC. Again, adoption takes place in decentralized regions of the world.
Weird and wonderful
There have been individual instances where the cryptocurrency and the sports world have collided. For a third time, Tom Brady is mentioned and for an equally good reason. In October, Brady became the first NFL quarterback in history to throw 600 touchdown passes. He whipped the ball to teammate Mike Evans who scored the touchdown. The Buccaneers wide receiver threw the ball into the crowd after scoring, presenting a priceless keepsake to a lucky fan.
During the match, an official managed to chat with the fan and Brady then offered the lucky spectator 1 Bitcoin (BTC) to return the historic ball to them. That 1 BTC was worth $ 62,000, while estimates of the value of the actual bullet that crossed the milestone were worth between $ 500,000 and $ 1 million.
This was not all good news with a few mishaps that took place until 2021. Manchester City and Barcelona, well known in their respective leagues, had to cancel deals with smaller cryptocurrency companies for various reasons. , which was a reminder that space is still nascent and some projects and companies may not deliver the products and services they seek to offer.
Spanish football legend Andrés Iniesta was warned online by a Spanish regulator for promoting Binance on his Twitter and Instagram profiles. The National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) warned of “significant risks due to the fact that these are unregulated products” in a Tweet in responnse Hours later.
This is harmless enough, but it suggests that the integration of cryptocurrencies and associated ramifications into the world of sports can sometimes border on the realm of the unknown. Some things work wonderfully and gain traction while others don’t have the same success, but the adoption train still continues.