It is clear that some industries have been faster to react to the possibilities offered by cryptocurrencies than others.
In the world of sport, cryptos are still fairly rare, but there is no doubt that their importance is growing all the time. American sports franchises are getting curious about Bitcoin and Ethereum and in Europe there are already some soccer teams sponsored by blockchain companies. But how is crypto getting their way into the sport business?
Cryptocurrencies as Payment Methods
Perhaps the simplest way for sports fans to use digital money is to buy tickets and merchandise with it. NBA team the Sacramento Kings has been a pioneer in this respect, becoming arguably the first sports team to accept Bitcoin payments in 2014.
In the NFL, the Miami Dolphins announced a new partnership at the start of the 2019 football season that saw Litecoin become their official cryptocurrency. Part of this deal meant that fans could buy tickets for the team’s 50/50 raffle using Litecoin or Bitcoin.
As the use of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies becomes more widespread, more teams have begun to accept it. However, there is still some way to go before it can be regarded as being one of the most common ways of buying a ticket for a game.
Teams Release Their Own Tokens
An area where some sports teams have been keen to get involved is in issuing their own crypto tokens. Italian Serie A soccer team Juventus has been leading the way in this matter, as they released their official fan token, $JUV, through the Socios platform.
This token allows fans of Juventus to take part in club decisions and surveys. For example, they are able to vote on what song they want to hear played when the team scores a goal. The Juventus token started trading in 2020 and rose in value by 17% in the first hour and a half it was on the market.
Other soccer teams with tokens of this sort include Barcelona, Roma, Galatasaray, and Paris-Saint Germain. The idea is that fans will eventually be able to buy products from the club using these tokens, as a virtual marketplace will be set up.
It is easy to imagine fans using a token like these to vote on their NFL club’s draft plans, to decide how to honor their favorite players, and to get tickets for special events.
Tokens could also be used to bet on NFL playoff futures and for many other reasons in the future. Maybe it will be possible in the future to be on NFL games with cryptocurrencies? It is highly likely.
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An area of blockchain activity that promises to offers lots of exciting possibilities is that of crypto-collectibles. This is something that could give loyal fans something different to help them to feel part of the team’s community.
A good example comes from the MLB, with baseball team Los Angeles Dodgers hosting a crypto giveaway in 2018. This was reported at the time as being the first time a sports team had launched an initiative of this type.
The Dodgers gave away crypto tokens to the first 40,000 spectators into the stadium for a game. The lucky fans could then use it to download a digital bobblehead of a player to store in their Ethereum wallets.
What Does the Future Hold?
It seems that there are still plenty of new ways that cryptocurrencies can be introduced to the sports world. For the moment, some clubs have taken a lead on this, so perhaps others will follow suit when they see that it really can work.
Perhaps the biggest benefit for teams in doing this is to increase the bond between them and their fans. By giving people the chance to own a token linked to their team, they provide a way of making supporters genuinely feel like a part of what happens.
It certainly wouldn’t be a major surprise to find that more sports teams roll out their own digital tokens in the near future. Exciting times are ahead for fans of sports and technology.