The number of different cryptocurrencies that have been launched has reached eye-watering levels; it’s believed that over 18,000 unique cryptocurrencies are currently being traded, with Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) leading the way.
It was only a matter of time before cryptocurrencies began to enter the world of sports. We’ve been seeing cryptocurrency trading companies sponsor individual athletes and/or teams for some time. We’ve even seen the world-famous Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers, rebranded as Crypto.com Arena. Sponsorship is just one part of crypto’s impact on sports.
Cryptocurrency has also proven to be a popular choice for online sports gambling. With gambling still illegal in many locales, the black market sports betting industry is robust; cryptocurrency and the anonymity it offers are perfect for use at unregulated gambling firms. Often, making a deposit using cryptocurrency is just as easy, if not easier, than using a credit or debit card. Even among legal sports betting sites that accept it, cryptocurrency remains a popular choice for funding accounts.
Professional athletes are just like us, besides their prodigious athletic skills and a few extra zeros in their bank accounts. They, too, follow trends, including those pertaining to finance. They know how popular cryptocurrencies are and the explosive growth they could realize by entering the industry, which is why more and more athletes are beginning to accept cryptocurrencies as a part of their salary.
Superstars like NFL MVP Aaron Rogers, two-way MLB phenom Shohei Ohtani multiple-time NBA champion Andre Iguodala are but a few of the athletes that have signed deals that contain cryptocurrency. Most of the time, there is a third-party partnership involved, where the athlete agrees to shout out specific crypto platforms when announcing their new contract. The athletes know that simply being involved with a particular cryptocurrency can enrich them even further, as their participation may buoy the price of the currency.
This leads us to Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Yes, the (in)famous NFT. Primarily known as a way to “own” digital artwork, NFTs are making their way into the sports world. Players and their associated organizations produce NFTs that are essentially digital playing cards. Some sports-themed NFTs are pictures of a player or jersey with a digital signature from the athlete. Other NFTs show a short video or GIF of a highlight from a player’s career or a noteworthy event in the sport. These NFTs can be traded between owners, albeit on a digital platform instead of in-person, like real playing cards.
With it creeping into everything from sponsorships to athlete pay, the sports world’s obsession with cryptocurrencies is kicking into overdrive. Whether the relationship lasts will depend on if cryptocurrencies and NFTs are just fads or if they actually have staying power. For now, though, there seems to be no end in sight.
Bitcoin (BTC) is currently changing hands at $40,140.43 per share, up +2.25% on the day. YTD BTC is down -15.98%.
Ethereum (ETH) is currently trading at $2,970.85 per share, up +2.77% on the day. YTD BTC is down -21.16%.
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Disclaimer: Wealthy VC does not hold a position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article.