NFTs Accelerate Adoption with Sports Memorabilia

Sweet Spot for Digital Collectables – collecting sports memorabilia has flourished as far as I can remember. Kids are indoctrinated into collecting baseball cards here in the US at an early age. So why the “Wait and See” attitude from athletes and clubs hesitant to dive into the NFT marketplace?

There are many types of NFTs produced classified as”art” in some shape or form. These NFTs, in some cases, are met with mixed skepticism, but Sports Memorabilia is not in the same “asset class”. Sports have a global following with a massive influx of capital from all sorts of sources. Not being “all in” with developing Sports NFTs is a missed opportunity, and let me tell you why…

Collectables as a Kid

It was engrained in me as a kid to collect baseball cards. When I first started collecting, after school I would buy a few packs of cards that contained 5 to 10 cards in each package. Sometimes you would get duplicates, and not of the ones you wanted to get duplicates of. Then the idea came to me, along with the coaxing of the collectables store proprietor, why not buy the entire year’s worth of cards, the complete annual set, an unopened box. Why unopened, in the sealed box? The cards are more valuable, and the promise of Mint condition. When I first started to collect baseball cards in the early 1980s, there were just a few major players, Topps, and Fleer among the best. So, every year I would buy the unopened box set of Topps (approx. $30), and then I would still buy the packs of 5 – 10 cards, looking for the outstanding players. I’d use a large loose-leaf book with plastic pages with baseball card like inserts to show off the cards, and maybe trade with other kids. It was fun, and to some extent, I carried that collectible “bug” into my adult life.

Sports Memorabilia

Memorabilia comes in all shapes and sizes, thousands upon thousands of things we collect, trade, and just “show off”. Some collectibles are very obscure hobbies, and some are more abundant, but by far, if I looked at the types of collectables by popularity, Sports memorabilia would be up near the top. We have sports world wide, and just like the United States loves their Baseball, Football, Hockey, and Basketball, the rest of the world loves their Football (i.e. Soccer). I see a vast potential of an undersold marketplace. There is a desire for Sports Digital Assets in the form of NFTs, so why hasn’t the market matured along with the NFT marketplaces?

“Wait and See” attitude from Athletes and Clubs

It seems like athletes, athletic clubs and leagues are taking the “Wait and See” attitude. When your brand, your image, is on the line, you want to watch the first few pioneers to see who fails, and who achieves notoriety. Arguably, art is not a cookie cutter process, and each new digital asset, minted non-fungible token (NFT), may have a style all its own, or at least a collection of NFTs applying a similar theme. Sitting on the sidelines won’t get you noticed.

Digital Agencies – Poised for Profit

I’ve had the pleasure of working for a large digital agency, specifically for medical and pharmaceuticals sectors. It was impressive to see the orchestration of people from sales pitch to project management, and creative working together for a common goal. Think of how many athletes in the world, where memorabilia is associated with their sport? How many are not represented by digital agencies?

Opportunities for All Participation Levels

Awhile back I collected 1955 Bowman cards, which looked really interesting. Each baseball card was featured within a television, one thing that made them unique. Another thing, all of the umpires got their own baseball cards as well. Classic!

Athletes Opportunities

  • Athlete’s perspective of their favorite career moment memorialized in a “Digital Moment”, e.g. brief video clip, encapsulated in a card like digital structure, signed by the player.
  • Player’s Jersey / Uniform, signed, and sponsor placement for promotion rendered as an NFT, digital card, optionally a 3D object for the 360 view.
  • Athletes sign head shots and take photos with fans, sometimes at a premium. For an additional fee, the Athlete can mint an NFT of the picture of the athlete and the fan.

Athletic Sports Clubs / Organizations

At the Sports Club, team level, there are a ton of opportunities for minting NFTs

  • The annual team photo digitized as an NFT
  • “All Stars” collection / series of NFTs, featuring best “Digital Moments” in their careers
  • Best moments from off-season, “spring training”, and impromptu moments

Why NFTs? Authenticity is Everything Collecting Memorabilia

Do you have a signed Pete Rose Baseball card from 1985? Are you sure it’s genuine? How? Authenticity may come by way of a letter, a statement declaring the physical item is authentic signed by someone or some organization of trust. That’s best-case scenario. NFTs are authentic by their very nature, how they were minted, and by whom.

Legality and Licensing

Barriers to minting their own NFTs MAY exist on an athlete based on their contractual agreement with the athletic club. Free agents may have fewer restrictions.

Who’s Making Money and How

First, the digital agency that are producing the assets for the athlete, club, and league make $$$. Then, the patrons of the sports, athletes, athletic club, or league, who commissioned the collectibles will go to the NFT marketplaces to mint the NFTs to be auctioned or bought at a fixed price. The patron can limit the number of minted items, i.e. limited edition collectible, 47/2000 minted to drive the price up for that limited edition. Then the NFT marketplaces collect fees for the transactions. Finally, the sports fans, the collectors, the sports aficionados, gain wealth and notoriety by ownership of the NFTs, Show off your collection of sports memorabilia, and occasionally sell a digital asset or two.

Online Sports Gambling Opportunities

Online sports gambling companies like Bet MGM and DraftKings should be financing the creation of sport NFTs. Everything from NFT trophies for player big wins and athlete “personalized” NFTs for example, the play of the week with athlete’s genuine signature, limited mint for rare NFT sports memorabilia.

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