The Digital Collection World

How NFTs are conquering the Sports Business

Non-fungible tokens are becoming increasingly important and trading with them is booming. In the sports world, too, more and more players are opening up new possibilities. And the diverse possibilities of NFTs seem far from exhausted.

Whether it’s the brand-new Topps album with the current Bundesliga stars or the glossy packets from Panini for the new NBA basketball season – collecting and exchanging stickers or cards has had a very special magic for sports fans for decades and across generations. Today, a not inconsiderable part of the joy of collecting is focusing more and more on non-fungible tokens: NFTs are experiencing a real boom.

But what is a non-fungible token (NFT) anyway? First of all, it is an irreplaceable and digitally protected object and thus the counterpart to Bitcoin, which is a fungible token. Using blockchain technology, a special database form, an NFT strings together records that ultimately make the object unique and identifiable. The bottom line is that non-fungible tokens are ownership certificates for unique digital objects and thus forgery-proof collector’s items.

At the same time, an NFT remains something abstract. It can’t be touched, but it can be just about anything: a video, an art object or a cat GIF that sold for 600,000 US dollars last year. The hype (still) knows no bounds. Even tweets become NFTs for high sums: Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sold his first post on his own social media platform for almost three million US dollars.

Alongside these success stories, there is also criticism. NFTs were not considered environmentally friendly for a long time. Like cryptocurrencies, they require large amounts of energy because the creation of blockchains requires a lot of computing power. However, NFTs can still be more sustainable than physical giveaways along with their packaging and transport routes. In general, more and more attention is being paid to sustainability in the world of non-fungible tokens.

Several million dollars for a digital collector’s item from the world of sport

Criticism or not. Non-fungible tokens also open up completely new possibilities for the sports business. Within a short time, a completely new market for sports memorabilia has emerged. And here, too, although no one can predict exactly how the world of NFTs will develop, enormously high prices are being paid.

A few examples: Last year, the ten most expensive sports-related NFTs for which the amount of the sales price is known included an NFT of US baseball star Aaron Judge (2.13 million dollars), an 8-bit artwork of basketball legend Michael Jordan (5.06 million dollars) or a digitally signed trading card of American boxing pro Jermall Charlo (19.1 million dollars).

More and more major leagues are jumping on the NFT bandwagon. In December 2021, the National Football League, the world’s top-selling sports league, launched its first trading card series in NFT form – and with no less a partner than Panini. The NBA basketball league, on the other hand, has teamed up with the blockchain company Dapper Labs and offers “NBA Top Shots”, an online marketplace where fans can buy and sell NFTs with video clips. In addition, the league offers art and videos depicting memorable moments in basketball history.

The offerings are also growing in this country: Just in time for the Winter Olympics in Beijing, the startup cooperated with Team Germany. Digital trading cards of the 149 German Olympic participants could be purchased. This cooperation was made possible by Deutsche Sport Marketing (DSM), the marketing partner of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB).

Digital token verifies the authenticity of physical sporting goods

The combination of physical goods and digital tokens is also interesting for the sports business. For example, the sports goods manufacturer Nike has patented a method to verify the authenticity of shoes with the help of an NFT system. When purchasing a pair of “Crypto Kicks”, the buyer simultaneously receives a digital token that ensures the authenticity of his Nike sneakers. Another area of high importance in connection with NFT is emerging in connection with computer games.

The growing trend around NFTs and their potential as a new source of revenue has been recognised by all. More and more players in the sports business will take advantage of it in the near future. But in the end, what is a fair price for a virtual trading card of football star Robert Lewandowski? Would an exchange for a digital image of a basketball signed by Michael Jordan be a fair trade? Surely there’s more to it than pure crypto value, isn’t there?

Scroll to Top