How Crypto has been bombarding professional sports
The Super Bowl’s real MVP was crypto. Crypto commercials ruled the Sunday broadcast while crossovers between pro sports and crypto have increased over the last year.
Exchanges have formed partnerships with leagues, arenas, and individual teams, and superstars are getting paid in crypto, buying ape NFTs, and launching their own NFT companies. So let’s see how pro sports have made shots on crypto.
After NFL player Russell Okung was elected to receive half of his salary in bitcoin in 2020, other players from top leagues have joined the fray too. NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers also received part of his salary in BTC, and so did Super Bowl champ Odell Beckham Jr. Klay Thompson, and Andre Iguodala in the NBA received $1 million each of their salary in BTC.
The NFL considers crypto to be crucial for its future. For example, the league partnered with Dapper Labs, makers of NBA Top Shot, to create NFL All Day, a collectible line. The NFL and Ticketmaster have also allied with Polygon, a low-fee blockchain, to create commemorative NFTs for game ticket holders. The league has also begun lobbying the federal government on issues related to blockchain technology which is telling of the NFL’s broader ambitions.
Popular athletes have now started as NFT entrepreneurs. For example, Tom Brady’s NFT platform, Autograph, has forged partnerships with Naomi Osaka, Tony Hawk, and Usain Bolt and raised around $200 million from investors. In the meantime, a group of NBA and MLB pros launched Players Only, an NFT project that provides access to exclusive experiences, like courtside tickets or gaming sessions with athletes.
Every major sports league is heading towards crypto. The NBA is allegedly the most crypto-advanced league since it launched Top Shot almost a year ago and has a multi-year partnership with Coinbase.
Other sports have followed suit, too; the San Jose Sharks accept crypto at their stadium in the NHL, and many teams have partnerships with crypto companies.
The MLB’s Washington Nationals also signed a $40 million deal with the DAO that runs the Terra blockchain recently and will start accepting crypto as early as next year. In addition, fans have spent more than $350 million on “fan tokens” across five major European soccer leagues. This provides perks like lifelong discounts at team stores and the right to vote on stadium music to the holders.
There are not many platforms that are bigger than professional sports, and these partnerships hold importance to the mainstreaming of crypto as crypto and pro league are becoming intertwined. In addition, the sports arena has emerged as an essential test bed for various crypto applications like payments, collectible experiences, and beyond.