During the first several years of crypto, the community stayed fairly separate from the mainstream. However, in the past couple years, crypto has expanded and been introduced to a variety of new areas. One such area is sports. Many sports fans own collectibles, such as sports cards or autographs. These collectibles are being integrated with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to prove ownership and combine the massively popular sports industry with crypto.
NFTs are essentially a way to prove ownership on the blockchain. They can store data from anything digital, such as art or audio recordings. Since the blockchain is an immutable ledger, ownership of NFTs can be verified through it. Many people collect NFTs, as they like the art, have a connection to the project or are looking to make profit.
These uses of NFTs align with sports collectibles. Many people collect sports memorabilia, such as game balls, jerseys and autographs. NFTs provide a new and digital way to collect these items. This form of ownership increases the accessibility of collectibles and provides greater security.
Several sports industries have operating NFT marketplaces that have increased in popularity. Some enjoy the platforms because they are fans of a player or team, while others see a chance to profit. Either way, the draw of sports NFTs cannot be denied.
Sorare is a fantasy soccer platform that integrates NFTs. Fantasy soccer traditionally works by having users draft a team, and those players can earn points for you by actions such as scoring goals and getting assists. Sorare has integrated NFTs into the already popular industry.
Users can buy and sell NFTs of soccer players from over 200 incensed clubs. These NFTs can be used to create a team. Weekly competitions let users compete against each other to see who can earn the most points. The victors have a chance to win NFTs or cryptocurrency.
The platform stores the NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain, using the ERC-721 standard. This feature allows the platform to use the power and reach of the Ethereum chain while still governing its own site.
The game has attracted attention from soccer stars such as Antoine Griezmann and venture capital firms such as Accel.
In November 2021, the NFL released a set of virtual commemorative tickets. These NFTs were minted for $10 and now go for thousands. Each team gave out 125 tickets. The NFTs were hosted on the Polygon network, a layer-2 solution on the Ethereum chain.
The release was not given much media attention, and the NFL made few announcements regarding the project. While the release was somewhat slow, many caught on after an announcement during the NFL games on Thanksgiving. After this, prices soared to over $1,000 for certain teams.
Some believe that NFTs could have more uses in the NFL than just commemorative tickets. Some say that NFTs could be used for actual tickets to games. Fans can prove that they own their ticket, and they can be easier to sell on the secondary markets through NFTs. This feature may be a bit of a ways away, but is certainly something to watch out for.
Basketball NFTs: NBA Top Shots
Over the past few years, sports cards have become increasingly popular. Michael Jordan rookie cards have sold for over $100,000, and stores around the country were completely sold out of sports cards. NBA Top Shot is a platform that hopes to capitalize on this high demand by combining sports cards and NFTs.
Users can purchase virtual “packs” on NBA Top Shot and have the chance of getting a rare card. If they are looking for a specific card, they can access a marketplace where users can buy and sell individual NFTs.
Most of the NFTs are “moments,” which take specific plays from games and make an NFT. The better the play, the more rare the card.
The project is based on the Flow blockchain, which was built by Dapper Labs, the creators of Top Shot.
Top Sports NFT Sales
- LeBron James Statue – $21.6 million: This Lebron James NFT is a picture taken by Kimani Okearah and gives the owner exclusive rights to the photograph. It sold for $21.6 million and is now listed for nearly $40 million.
- Diego Maradona – $4.3 million: After Diego Maradona’s death in 2020, the value of his NFTs on Sorare shot up. This NFT features a picture of the soccer legend in his final coaching job. It is currently listed for nearly $8 million.
- LeBron James Cosmic Dunk – $208,000: This NFT is the largest transaction on NBA Top Shot to date. It features a clip of a LeBron James dunk. User “Sparky_24” got it from a pack and made a life-changing sale.
NFT Marketplaces for Sports NFTs
You can access a number of places to buy sports NFTs in addition to Sorare and NBA Top Shot. These platforms offer only the NFTs from their specific collections.
OpenSea is the largest NFT marketplace and houses hundreds of sports-related projects. The platform also has a variety of other projects, such as Bored Ape Yacht Club and CrytpoPunks.
Be Careful Investing
Sports NFTs are new and carry lots of risk. They are collectibles, and most of the value comes from attachment to a specific team or player. This aspect can be problematic for multiple reasons. First, it limits the amount of people that would want to purchase an NFT. A Green Bay Packers fan would likely not want to buy a Minnesota Vikings NFT. Also, if a player is convicted of a crime or does something to damage their reputation, the value of the NFT could go down.
If you are looking to invest in sports NFTs for a profit, you may want to look elsewhere. If you are looking for something that holds sentimental value, sports NFTs may be a great way to branch out from physical collectibles.
This being said, Deloitte has predicted an expansion of the sports NFT market in 2022.
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