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Blockchain and The Sports Industry: Rewarding Fans in the DLT Era

Blockchain technology is having a strong impact on the sports industry around the world. Over the last years, we have seen how distributed ledger technology has been used in the financial industry, to enhance the supply chain and also to register data and information. 

When we have in mind blockchain technology, we usually think about Bitcoin (BTC), cryptocurrencies and tokens. But these are not the only topics related to this fast-growing industry. We should also talk about NFTs, prediction markets and fan engagement among others. 

The sports industry has seen very large changes thanks to the expansion of distributed ledger technology. There are cases of NFL and football players being paid in Bitcoin, sports clubs are also releasing new projects on top of blockchain networks and the NFT industry has found ground in this industry. 

But why is the blockchain industry so popular among sports clubs and famous players? Which are the advantages of using digital currencies to incentivize fans and participation? Are NFTs really useful to attract new ways of fan engagement? Which are the networks and projects that are creating the necessary infrastructure for blockchain technology in the sports industry?

We will only tell you that RSK is becoming a key player in different sports projects that rely on blockchain technology. As we already know, RSK is creating the necessary infrastructure to expand the crypto and blockchain industries even further. 

In this post, we will share with you all the details about the current state of blockchain technology in the sports industry and how RSK is helping companies release new projects that rely on DLT. 

Why Is Blockchain Useful for the Sports Industry?

There are different reasons related to why blockchain technology could be useful in the sports industry. Not only it helps with handling information about sports, results and records, but it could also be a way to maximize engagement within the sports community. 

Right now, there are several initiatives around the world that have created a situation in which blockchain technology gets engaged with different sports. Nowadays, it is possible to find sports players that receive their salaries in Bitcoin, community initiatives that helped fund sports events, NFTs being released on top of different blockchain networks to increase fan engagement and many other things. 

Blockchain technology became a buzzword, that’s a fact. It has been used in many different industries, including finance, supply chain, computing and more. Thus, the sports industry saw the opportunity to find a way to increase the already large revenues they handle by offering new and creative initiatives to the community and more. 

Blockchain technology has been used for different purposes depending on the type of initiative and project released in the sports industry. Thus, the benefits of using DLT would be different for each of the solutions released. What perhaps calls the attention of the entire community is related to salaries being paid in Bitcoin due to their large impact on social media channels. This has been one of the best ways in which recognized figures in the sports industry gained an even larger exposure to fans around the world. 

Despite this focus on marketing, numerous projects are working with DLT to make new and creative initiatives possible. Just to mention an example, Topps has released a new Baseball NFT collection in 2021 that features baseball’s large games, players and stars. 

Releasing NFTs and collectables is becoming a very common trend in the sports industry, with teams working and collaborating with a large number of companies in the blockchain space. The large media coverage that blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies give to players and sports clubs is a great way to incentivize participants in this economy to engage in different community initiatives.

Let’s now get into the details of how blockchain technology is changing the sports industry around the world. 

 

Sports Salaries in Bitcoin: Adopting the Crypto Standard

One of the most common use cases of blockchain technology that we have seen as a clear trend in the sports industry is related to salary payments in Bitcoin. Most of the time, the salaries are being paid in BTC to stars in teams of different sports, including football, NFL and basketball among others. 

Football

Alex Crognale, the centre back for the Birmingham Legion, became the first football player in the United States to receive part of his salary in Bitcoin. According to reports, he started receiving 15% of his salary in Bitcoin using a platform called Bitwage. Crognale plays in the USL Championship. Although this could be just one of the first players in the world to start receiving Bitcoin as a part of his salary, there could be a move towards Bitcoin. For example, an amateur football club in Turkey called Harunustaspor became the first one to close a deal using BitcoinThey have paid for Omar Faruk Kiroglu 0.0525 BTC and €470 as part of the deal. The goal was to make something new rather than using traditional fiat currencies to process the payment. 

NFL

Russell Okung is one of the most popular NFL players to receive a portion of his salary in Bitcoin. This American football offensive tackle has been working for several teams starting at Seattle Seahawks and playing at the moment at Carolina Panthers. He decided to start receiving Bitcoin when playing for Los Angeles Chargers in 2019. 

He has also declared that he purchased Bitcoin with his salary, something that has been echoed by media outlets many times. It is also worth mentioning that Okung has been a strong supporter of Bitcoin as he actively supported the Bitcoin community in Nigeria where Bitcoin has been attacked by the local government. 

Another recognized NFL player that has tried to get his salary paid in Bitcoin was Matt Barkley. The quarterback requested the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals to pay their contracts in Bitcoin. However, he did not receive a positive answer from these teams. Nonetheless, this is just an example of how some teams are leaving the Bitcoin and blockchain market to move forward without their active participation. 

Getting paid in Bitcoin is just one of the ways we envision blockchain technology being implemented in the sports industry. These two NFL players are showing that Bitcoin can be very useful and that there are no limits to integrate it into our lives. Nonetheless, other players are also ready to receive their salaries in Bitcoin. 

Basketball

Basketball players are also part of the Bitcoin and blockchain revolutions. The Canadian Elite Basketball League informed earlier this year that they have partnered with the crypto exchange Bitbuy to pay basketball players’ salaries using Bitcoin. More than 70 players are already eligible to receive part of their salaries in Bitcoin rather than Canadian dollars. Furthermore, this has also been an opportunity for Bitbuy to become a sponsor of the Canadian Elite Basketball league. Thus, this deal has been very positive for the Canadian cryptocurrency community. 

The Sacramento Kings became the first sports franchise in the United States to offer payments in cryptocurrencies. In this particular case, players could decide to receive as much of their salaries in Bitcoin as they desired.  

Selling Tickets and Merch Using Bitcoin

Another way in which the sports industry has already interacted with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is by selling merchandising and tickets. This is a great way to have a first contact with the cryptocurrency market, to attract new users and fans and also to get closer to the Bitcoin standard. 

Oakland As are now accepting Bitcoin for tickets as payment for full season suits. Users and large groups of people are now able to pay for these suits using the largest virtual currency in the world. Moreover, users that want to buy seats are also able to do so, however, they would have to buy them in pods of two or four people. This is one of the ways in which companies can attract new fans and incentivize the community to participate in sports events.

One of the largest news stories in 2019 about Bitcoin adoption came from the Dallas Mavericks as one of the first NBA teams to accept Bitcoin for tickets and merchandise. They have teamed up with BitPay to process the crypto payments. Buyers can get special discounts for the products and services purchased if they pay using the most popular virtual currency. 

Sports Bets and Gambling Using Blockchain Technology

The blockchain industry has also had a strong impact and influence in the online gambling industry over the last few years. We already know that there are dozens of online casinos that are accepting not only Bitcoin but also other virtual currencies as a means of payment. 

Due to this large growth of the Bitcoin gambling industry, sportsbook and crypto sports betting sites became much more common than some years ago. The industry is not only being very profitable but it is also helping online casinos to remain at the forefront of technological adoption. 

Right now, there is a large number of online gambling sites working with Bitcoin that let users bet on different sports events. Some of the companies that are currently working in this industry, including Sportsbet, have already signed many partnerships with sports clubs and recognized figures to promote their services. 

RSK is also playing an important role in making it possible for gamblers and players to bet on their favourite teams. For example, RSK is now being used by TeaSwap to let users engage in real-life events such as the UEFA EURO 2002 and the Olympics, among others. 

Sports Collectibles Through NFTs

The NFT expansion in the cryptocurrency market continues until today and it is expected to continue growing in the coming years. NFTs play a very important role in the blockchain ecosystem and they are also having a noticeable impact on the sports industry. 

There have been a large number of NFT auctions related to sports and other initiatives. There are some sports clubs in different professional leagues that are already working with distributed ledger technology to reward fans with NFTs. 

Topps is one of the largest companies working with NFTs in the sports industry. To celebrate its first set of baseball cards launched 70 years ago, Topps announced a new Baseball NFT Collection that was released on September 9. 

This is one of the best ways in which companies are able to engage with fans. The NFTs can represent different moments within the MLB season. Different teams and companies are becoming engaged in a market that offers new and unique possibilities.

Most of the NFTs in the sports industry are released as trading cards. That means that users trade them in the same way as physical cards. There are some figures represented in the blockchain metaverse that can be traded for digital currencies. Additionally, tokenizing physical trading cards increases their value. 

With NFTs, people feel connected to the sports and people involved in them directly. There is no need to use intermediaries, they are just being part of the games. Moreover, as the information remains stored online, it is possible to trade these NFTs. Some sports NFTs could also have royalties for the owner. Once it is sold in the market, each sale would offer a small percentage to the first owner of the token. 

 

Cryptocurrency Tokens for Clubs

One of the most popular use cases of blockchain technology in the sports industry is related to football clubs releasing their own fan tokens. We are talking about internationally recognized football teams such as Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint Germain, Milan, Inter, etc. Basically, these football clubs released cryptocurrency tokens that can now be traded in different virtual currency exchanges from all over the world. 

Individuals can purchase these tokens in different exchanges according to their needs. Some clubs offer ticket or merchandise discounts and also exclusive access to VIPs.  These tokens had a very positive impact on the fan base of each of these clubs. 

If there is an important event such as a final match, users can buy or sell the token depending on the odds they have of winning or losing. This usually affects their price. Moreover, if there are rumours or large events that have an impact on one specific club, the tokens would also reflect the sentiment in the market. These football fan tokens can also be used by investors to collect them and create their crypto team collection. 

Just a few years ago, it was impossible to think about football clubs creating their digital currencies. Nowadays, things have completely changed. It is almost a standard for most of the largest football clubs around the world to have a token to get access to exclusive offers, discounts and more. 

 

RSK’s Contributions 

RSK has been working over the last years on a wide range of solutions not only in the sports industry but also in many other sectors such as DeFi, stablecoins, enterprise solutions, etc. In simple words, RSK has created the necessary infrastructure for the blockchain ecosystem to reach a larger number of users (gamers, investors, sports fans, etc). When it comes to sports, RSK has some interesting use cases:

Tokkenit

This is a loyalty application in which users are able to create their loyalty programs and reward customers with benefits and prizes. By using smart contracts on the RSK network, companies working in the sports industry can launch their loyalty programs and reward those fans that engage the most with tokens.

Watafan

Another project working with RSK’s technology is Watafan. This company enables the creation of NFTs to commemorate important events. Some of the NFTs include memorabilia, an autograph and images. Watafan can deliver a large number of options for fans all over the world that want closer contact with their favourite athletes. 

TeaSwap

Finally, we have TeaSwap, a DeFi company that is currently offering services to DeFi users that want to get direct exposure to real-life events such as sports tournaments, football matches or competitions. For example, TeaSwap has provided interactions with the UEFA EURO 2020 and the Olympics.  RSK is playing a key role in helping TeaSwap offer unique solutions to people that want to interact with real-life events using a DeFi protocol and tokens.