The NFT market has been down badly as of late, much like everything else.
But I doubt it will stay there for long.
Down cycles and bear markets in regard to any form of innovation are unfortunate and painful, but they're also necessary to drive that innovation forward.
The days of trading so-called “jpeg monkeys and lions” might be over, but the utility and underpinning technology of NFTs are here to stay.
Blockchain and smart contracts, which are what make NFTs different from regular digital images and files, are unique forms of technology that will revolutionize the way business is done in every industry.
And we’re already starting to see this happen in a major way when it comes to sports and athletes.
Here are 3 prime reasons why every athlete should look at starting their own NFT project:
Deepen Fan Connection:
Athletes’ careers are finite and brief, comparably speaking.
Most are retired before the age of 30.
This means they have limited time to capitalize on their relevance and engage fans.
Showing up online consistently and providing value whether through education or entertainment is an excellent way to keep fans invested after an athlete steps off the playing field.
But NFTs are a great way to take that engagement a step further.
Any athlete can easily create and mint an NFT collection to offer to their pre-existing fanbase.
Though the utility that an athlete provides along with that collection is what makes it special, valuable and differentiated.
Whether it’s behind-the-scenes content, exclusive access to a community, or special pop-up autograph sessions, providing fans with tangible value should be the number one priority if an athlete wants to build a deeper connection with the people who follow them the closest.
Additionally, for smaller sports and individual athletes, NFTs can be a huge driver for mass adoption and attention.
An example is what the platform EX Sports is doing to help bring awareness to freestyle football, which is a relatively niche sport.
Regardless of the sport an athlete plays, there is an opportunity for them to use NFTs to help them expand their brand and establish stronger relationships.
A Potential New Revenue Stream:
Of course, NFTs should first and foremost be looked at as a brand engagement mechanism, but secondly, NFTs can be a great source of revenue for athletes.
Athletes can price each individual NFT in their collection based on the value and utility they give the consumers.
Using one of the examples mentioned previously, an athlete could have an exclusive community or monthly zoom session with the holders of the NFT collection where they answer questions about their training regimen, diet, daily schedule, etc...
It might take some research to figure out what exactly fans want and consider valuable, but the opportunities are endless for athletes who can think outside the box.
There are plenty of fans who would gladly pay for this type of access regardless of whether an athlete is the star of the team or the first player off the bench.
A great example of this is what Duncan Robinson, forward for the Miami Heat, has done with his podcast, The Long Shot.
Even though he’s using tokens instead of NFTs, he was able to create gated access for his community using his own token called $DBO.
Fans who bought the $DBO token can receive various benefits including limited edition merch, private in-person events, secret episodes of the podcast, and all-access passes to private channels on Robinson’s Discord server.
As one of the lesser-known players in the NBA, he’s a great use case for how any athlete can use web3 to generate additional streams of revenue.
The most passionate fans want to interact and connect.
And as an athlete's career progresses and they continue to improve and/or win accolades the value of the NFT collection could very well appreciate in that time given the scarcity and demand.
Learn More About Web3 Capabilities:
It’s so early in the web3 space and there is still a ton of skepticism and speculation, but I’m willing to bet that the technology and higher level concepts behind web3 aren’t going anywhere.
This is why athletes, current and former, should be looking to get in right now.
They should be paying close attention to what’s happening in the industry day by day.
NFTs are a significant part of what web3 capabilities will look like in the future.
Even the more obscure athletes who don’t have much of an audience or fanbase should be looking at NFTs as a learning tool for how communities will be built and scaled in the future.
There is so much to learn and the space is always evolving.
The best way to stay up to speed is to get your hands dirty and get active.
Whether it’s starting your own NFT collection, or token or investing in crypto, becoming a first- mover and early adopter in the space can have significant advantages later down the line as the space grows.
NFTs and sports are the perfect marriage in my humble opinion. Both are inherently community-driven.
Both are designed to engage fans and consumers.
Both are ultimately steered by passion and support. For athletes, NFTs can be a major factor in helping them maintain their relevance in life after sports.
Think about it...
Athletes work their entire life just so they get to a place where they can do what they love at the highest level possible.
Getting to this level gives them the opportunities to build a following of people who become deeply invested in their stories over time.
From there they can use their platform to inspire others and possibly create generational wealth.
NFTs can be the catalyst for all of this and create sustainability for athletes.
Like anything else, there are obvious challenges and risks that come with building an NFT project, but imagine the possibilities and opportunities that might come from it instead.
To me, the upside is enough for every athlete to give it a shot.