NFT, the million-dollar digital spin on sports collecting
Miguel Angel Moreno
Madrid, Apr 30 (EFE).- Collecting, a pasttime that has been closely associated with sports memorabilia for generations, has taken the leap into the digital realm. The link between one world and the other is a simple three-letter acronym: NFT, a digital asset backed by a physical or virtual object (a card, a replay of a particular action) that can move millions of dollars.
Professional leagues like the NBA and teams such as the Golden State Warriors, European soccer clubs like Real Madrid, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus, and players like Barcelona’s Gerard Piqué and Antoine Griezmann have already joined this new trend as investors, promoters or clients of tech companies.
NFTs (which stands for non-fungible token) are digital assets that are authenticated with blockchain technology, the same technology that underpins cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin.
“Instead of securing its value, a bank authenticates on ‘blockchain,’ which is a global notary. The difference with a cryptocurrency is that it cannot be divided, and the comparison with a collectible makes sense, but you can ‘tokenize’ anything,” Josep María Monti, president of the sports technology forum HUB23 and founder of Stredium, explains to Efe.
Through this technology, various companies or competitions link these digital assets to a physical or digital object, such as a replay of a memorable play or a card from a sports game, which can be bought and sold because the asset always maintains that digital stamp of authenticity.
The NBA, for example, agreed with one of the pioneering companies in this sector, Dapper Labs, to create ‘NBA Top Shot Moments’, fragments of replays that are sold and traded. The most expensive so far has been a replay of a Le Bron James dunk with the Lakers in 2020, which sold for $250,000, and in total they have generated $230 million.
Another option is to tie these digital assets to a physical object, as the Golden State Warriors have done just this week, when they decided to create NFTs linked to their six NBA rings and tickets to the 10 most important games in the franchise’s history. The auction will be held on May 1.
French company Sorare has linked this technology to its ‘fantasy’-style soccer game, which awards points based on players’ performances in national and European competitions.
“For centuries we’ve been collecting real things, and now (thanks to NFTs) we can do it on the web. We wanted to bring soccer fans into that, and not just have them collect, but play with them,” the company’s CEO, Nicolas Julia, told EFE.