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Sports NFTs Enter the Playing Field

Posted by
Sead Fadilpasic

Football, soccer, tennis, basketball, and other sports look at NFTs to broaden their reach in the digital space.

Sports organizations, teams, brands and athletes are looking at NFTs to establish new connections with their fans. NFTs don’t get the mainstream attention just from certain high-profile NFT sales, but also to its potential to impact various areas of mainstream life, sports included.

NFTs are the blockchain world’s newest phenomenon. The technology offers a unique and irrefutable way to prove one’s ownership over digital or even tangible, physical items. These NFTs may include anything – a piece of digital art, tweet, event ticket, virtual real estate, or even a digital highlight of a memorable moment.

As reported in the DappRadar Industry Report earlier this month, the trading volume might be down, but the number of active wallets and transactions went up. This would indicate that the technology is finding an audience. These digital certificates of ownership and authenticity may yet experience a big comeback. This may very well happen thanks to the ever-present interest in the sports industry.

What NFTs offer to sports fans

People have always loved collecting sports memorabilia, hiking the price of some of those items up to a small fortune. They have also enjoyed connecting with their favorite athletes and teams, as well as partaking in iconic moments with them. 

Thanks to the blockchain technology, NFTs can now expand on the experience and usher it into the new digitized era. Collectibles no longer rely on the physical world. The experience can now include digital tickets to sports events, or highlights from the best games. But also players’ digital signatures, access to special bonuses and perks, and much more. Consumers can purchase this through one’s digital wallet.

Most noteworthy sports NFT projects

Understanding the true potential of the NFT market, more and more sports-oriented projects and companies are joining the space, making it richer, more versatile, and bringing it closer to the mainstream.

In April, Wax blockchain became the arena for trading digital Major League Baseball (MLB) cards. They partnered with collectibles retailer Topps. The 2021 Topps Series 1 Baseball NFTs are digitally enhanced versions of the existing physical card collectibles. Their prices can vary but can currently reach up to $85K per card.

Back in February, an Ethereum-based blockchain startup Sorare made headlines when it raised $50 million in Series A funding. The company made a fantasy football collectible game that relies on NFTs to indicate the uniqueness of each card. Some of these cards have reached massive worth, with the Cristiano Ronaldo one being sold for $292,000. The project presently works with 140 licensed teams and has accounted for more than $91 million in volume. This comes from nearly 470,800 sales (primary and secondary) and over 256,500 traders.

Perhaps the most notable of all is NBA Top Shot that went live on the Flow blockchain in September 2020. The official market for collecting and trading videos of iconic NBA moments has grabbed media attention by netting millions of dollars in profit from early investors. It has especially grown to the non-crypto crowd thanks to its simplicity. NBA Top Shot currently ranks first among the Flow dapps, surpassing $625 million in earnings since its launch. The dapp registered over 7 million sales and 410,800 involved traders.

Projects such as these are hardly alone. The blockchain gaming company Animoca Brands has raised $138.88 million in its latest funding round. Its subsidiary nWay has recently made news by partnering up with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). They now offer licensed Olympic pins as NFTs and launch a multiplayer video game where players can earn them.

Another one of Animoca’s subsidiaries – Lympo – has recently partnered up with the newly launched Binance Smart Chain (BSC) NFT marketplace which will host the company’s IP-based sports-related NFTs. Lympo’s minting platform allows people to stake their LMT tokens to mint NFTs of popular sports personas. The LMT token offering in April generated more than $36 million value and, at the time of writing, it traded at $0.38. The overall daily volume surpassed $1 million.

The NFTs are also encroaching into hockey, with the New Jersey Devils becoming the first NHL team to launch NFTs. Tennis players are becoming interested too, with Croatian Oleksandra Oliynykova selling a patch of skin on her arm as an NFT. In less bizarre news, the NFL is reportedly discussing the potential use of blockchain technology in ticketing.

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