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NFL players are already filling this gap with personal NFT collections.
Original title: “NFT Revolution: The NBA became the first league to eat crabs, where should the NFL go? 》
Written by: Andrew Hayward
Translation: Fenbushi Capital
The latest data from DappRadar shows that so far, the value and demand for digital collectibles sold in the form of NFTs in 2021 have exploded, with the transaction volume exceeding $1.5 billion in the first quarter alone. Although digital artists like Beeple have attracted attention in this field, sports should be the star of the NFT field!
Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot, an NBA star card that allows fans to collect and trade, has a significant increase in valuation and popularity. In the flourishing development of NFT, the NBA is the first sports league to commercialize it. So, where is the NFL, the world’s most profitable sports league with a huge fan base?
The NBA Top Shot was launched to the public in October 2020, but it exploded after the 2021 closing date. The recent NBA Top Shot transaction totaled more than 500 million U.S. dollars and pushed Dapper Labs’ valuation to 2.6 billion U.S. dollars (it is rumored to increase to 7.5 billion U.S. dollars).
Every hot moment in the NBA is certified by the Flow blockchain and is equipped with a rare grade and number to prove the scarcity to boost the demand for transactions. Although some random card packs are priced as low as 9 US dollars (up to 999 US dollars), the individual moments drawn may be more valuable: a LeBron James slam dunk instantly sold for 387,600 US dollars in mid-April, and some other moments It also broke the 6-digit mark.
Top Shot also introduces NFT into the mainstream, providing a new source of income for leagues, teams and players in the sports world. In March of this year, Front Office Sports reported that “In order to create their own collectibles platform, the NFL, NHL, and MLB have negotiated with companies such as Dapper Labs in the NFT field.” Caty Tedman, head of marketing and cooperation at Dapper Labs, has confirmed This news.
Dapper Labs confirmed that the WNBA will also have its own Top Shot later this year. In addition, since February 2020, the official has reached an agreement with the Ultimate Fighting Championship UFC, but no results have been achieved so far. As early as 2018, Major League Baseball MLB launched the blockchain game MLB Crypto barball (later renamed MLB Champions). But its digital collectibles have not become popular. It can be said that MLB has not caught this wave of enthusiasm. Although the star card company Topps just launched the first set of MLB cards on the Wax blockchain, the project did not go on. At the same time, racing leagues like Formula 1 and MotoGP also have encrypted games driven by collectibles.
What kind of league is the NFL?
Where is the NFL in the wave of various leagues embracing the NFT? The NFL is the world’s highest-paid sports league. Before the outbreak of the epidemic, its revenue in 2019 was estimated to be 16 billion U.S. dollars, while the NBA’s revenue in the 2018-19 season was 8.76 billion U.S. dollars.
“Sports Business Magazine” reported in March this year that Brian Rolapp, chief media and business officer of the NFL, sent a memo to the team stating that the league is studying blockchain technology for ticketing and collectibles. “I believe that if we exert our influence at the national level, we will have a considerable opportunity in this field, which can benefit the club with direct and indirect economic benefits.”
In a panel discussion hosted by Decrypt in March, Tedman, who has worked for the NFL and NHL, said that she believes that although the NFL does not have the first mover advantage, it can still make a difference in the NFT field. She added: “The NFL is not necessarily the earliest in the industry, but it may be the best. Learning from the NBA is very important in their strategy. When we consider co-developing products with other partners, we will Consider customizing products for these fan groups.”
Tedman said that they started discussing a few years ago, is cooperating with Dapper Labs a “risk” for the NBA? Because Dapper Labs’ pioneering CryptoKitties almost destroyed the Ethereum blockchain. The NBA was named “The Most Technologically Brained League” by Fast Company in 2018. Before the arrival of the NFT boom, the NBA seized the opportunity and received generous returns. When NFT proves to be a commodity, is the NFL ready?
Bob Dorfman, the creative director of Baker Street Advertising and a senior sports marketer, said: “(I) don’t see any obstacles to their progress. Although the NFL may not be as innovative and rapid as the NBA, the team owners never Will hesitate, but will act quickly to make full use of such a huge source of income.”
The players no longer wait
At the same time, NFL players quickly filled this gap with their personal NFT collection. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Rob Gronkowski, who has won four consecutive Super Bowl titles and is one of the league’s most popular players, was one of the first players to enter the game in early March. He eventually sold digital trading cards worth more than $1.6 million based on his image; shortly after, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes sold more than $3.7 million worth of encrypted art.
Former NFL wide receiver Vernon Davis was one of the first retired players. He released a set of NFL collections, including digital cards based on his image and 3D rendering equipment.
For Marsh, as a collector and the owner of a physical card store, entering digital collections can not only expand his interest, but also help players use their reputation to make money. He believes that the NFL will enter the NFT field one day, but the same encrypted collections will also fully tap the personal value of athletes.
“As a professional athlete, your image rights are used for different purposes. Most of the time these uses are not beneficial to you. The NFL has been using my image.” He continued, “With NFT, you have Opportunities to use their image to make money for themselves, and do things according to their own wishes. I definitely think NFT gives athletes a chance to make money.” Davis has been engaged in acting and film production since he retired from the league. He told Decrypt in March that he believed The NFL is ready to enter the NFT field like the NBA Top Shot.
Although Marsh is sure that the NFL will explore the field of NFT at some point, he does not want to speculate too much about the league’s plans: “I will let the NFL solve this problem by itself,” he said: “If you want to ask me during my seven years in the NFL What has been learned is to never assume anything and let them do what they should do. “
Soon, every player will have his own digital collection. Ecomi’s NFT platform VeVe pointed out in an updated article in March that it has a license from the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), but the specific arrangements have not yet been announced. If VeVe only reached an agreement with the player union, rather than with the league itself, then it would not be able to display the brand of the team and the league in the NFT.
A missed opportunity?
Will the rise of player personal NFT steal the market of a potential all-in-one digital collectible platform? Los Angeles Rams guard Taylor Rapp thinks it will. Rapp launched its own NFT collection in early April and used its proceeds for charity to prevent the recent growing racist attacks against Asians.
Rapp believes that player-driven NFT collection has great potential and describes it as “the future of sports trading cards” and “representing players’ stocks.” The value of the card may increase due to the increase in the player’s own value (performance on and off the court). He predicts that before the league takes action, a large number of players will enter the NFT field.
He said: “I don’t think the NFL will launch a series like NBA Top Shot across the league. I think players will enter the NFT field with the team and agents first.”
Dorfman, who does sports marketing, disagrees with this view. He believes that players and fans’ growing interest in NFT will only accelerate the league’s entry into this field. The NFL may have missed the opportunity to become an early sports NFT promoter, but with its huge popularity and influence, an official NFT platform may have a huge impact whenever it is launched.
Dorfman said: “Individual players entering the NFT can only inspire the NFL to act as soon as possible to formulate their own league plan,” he added: “It is only a matter of time before the NFL develops a league NFT plan. As long as the market is hot and the potential is sufficient, they You won’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
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