Mike O’Brien ‘23
Chief Sports Editor
As cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and more have sent the Internet and financial sector into a frenzy recently, cryptos have started to form an intersection with the world of sports.
Recently, cryptocurrency trading platform Blockfolio announced a partnership with NFL superstar prospect Trevor Lawrence. As Lawrence will shoot promos with and endorse the platform, in return, Lawrence’s signing bonus is entirely in crypto which has been deposited into his account. This is something that is truly new to the world of sports and money’s relationship, but Lawrence isn’t the only athlete to make headlines in the crypto realm.
While many NFL fans, including myself, may have not heard of tight end Sean Culkin before, he’s at the forefront of this crypto-sports rush. Culkin became the first known NFL player to take his entire salary for the upcoming season and invest it into Bitcoin. At the time of this article, Bitcoin is currently trading right around $55,000, so Culkin’s salary of $920,000 is good enough to purchase about 16.7 Bitcoin.
While this may be hard for many people to wrap their heads around, Lawrence and Culkin represent a potential shift away from traditional sports endorsements and contracts. Although its future in the financial sector remains to be seen as steady or not, Lawrence’s deal with Blockfolio presents other investment sites with a chance to make a splash in the world of sports. Surely, if the best quarterback in this NFL draft class believes in the future of crypto, I should too, right?
But the crypto sports craze doesn’t just stop with investing in Bitcoin. There have been numerous productions of sports-themed NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. Essentially, without taking up the entire article to explain, an NFT is a digital asset, whether it be a piece of art, or in our case a moment in sports, that is entirely unique to the owner, who usually acquires it through auction. While the entire nature of NFTs is more nuanced than Bitcoin, it hasn’t stopped the sports world from getting skin in the game.
Recently, the Golden State Warriors became the first professional sports franchise to launch an NFT collection that included items such as championship rings, courtside tickets, and other memorabilia. This concept, while more abstract than cryptocoins, is perhaps more accessible to fans of sports. Although investing in Bitcoin through the endorsement of a player may seem risky, there’s almost no fan that wouldn’t want a unique, one-of-one piece of memorabilia from their favorite team, digital or not.
The NBA itself has also cashed in on the digital collection buzz with the launch of NBA Top Shot, a marketplace that contains digital moments from NBA games. Top Shot has raked in a whopping $500 million dollars in sales, with some moments selling for as high as over $200,000. While some may find it pointless to spend that kind of money for a highlight they can simply find on YouTube, the NBA has wisely cashed in on what’s hot in the crypto market and raked in cash because of it.
While still in its infancy, the intersectionality between cryptocurrency & NFTs and pro sports is something to keep an eye on. Will we one day see every player in the NFL and NBA taking their salary in Bitcoin? Only time will tell.