Why does cryptocurrency like sports a lot?
14 Mar 2022

One of the most crowded sports events with 100 million spectators has been renamed this year as «Cryptobowl».  The reason is that cryptocurrency companies have been the total protagonists of the advertising spaces at Superbowl, the great annual American football event. 

The most outstanding case was a Coinbase advertisement in which there was a QR code bouncing on the screen for thirty seconds. This code took you directly to their registration page and an associated prize of 15 dollars in cryptocurrency. This was so successful that their website collapsed, like in a DoS attack, denial of service, characteristic of a hacker attack. However, the problem, in this case, was that too many spectators were logging in at the same time. 

Cryptocurrencies burst into Sports

The «Cryptobowl» has demonstrated that cryptocurrencies today are commercialised for all types of audiences and not, as it used to be, for IT specialists or investors. All the same, if this change has taken place in our society, it was thanks to sports fans. This is because they have been the first to be massively interested in digital assets based on cryptographic systems, the NFTs. 

And that is not all. A recent survey has demonstrated that sports fans are much more familiar with cryptocurrencies than the general public. This explains the interest of these companies in sponsoring sports, having created important agreements such as the 135 million naming-rights deal to name the NBA Miami Heat home building FTX Arena. The NBA has agreed to grant Coinbase more advertising space in their events and accepted them as sponsors of their women’s league, WNBA.

Paul Krugman, Nobel prize-winner for economics, indirectly pointed this out in one of his recent studies and explained that the larger digital assets holders in the USA, cryptocurrencies and NFTs, are mostly the Black minority. The profile matches a great part of the basketball league fans, and he explains why the NBA was the first to launch their stickers as collectible NFTs at a price that ranges from ten to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. And it is so successful.

It is quite interesting the contrast with the other American sports league, the NFL whose fans are mostly white people with a university student profile. Their decisions on cryptocurrencies have been much more conservative. The teams are banned from making any sponsorship deal with marketing companies as well as from selling their tickets or merchandising in these currencies. It is not a permanent ban but a framework for action while the league prepares a common strategy to face this type of business relationship. Actually, and following what the NBA has done, they have commercialised their NFT stickers and transformed their digital tickets into tokens to be kept as memories. 

Cryptocurrencies and NFTs reach Europe

This surge of interest is not limited just to the USA, instead, it is already moving to Europe, the other great sports market in the world. The Premier League has just tendered out their NFTs license for the following four years in 434 million euros. However, when dealing with sponsorships and business agreements, the European sport is still more cautious than the American one. With a similar strategy to the NFL one, they delay any deal while they prepare their implementation strategies.  

That delay has to do with doubts about the cryptocurrencies: the idea that they can be a bubble, or that they are used for dirty money laundry coming from criminal practices. All this could have a negative impact on the team’s and league’s reputation. Besides, the EU has announced that crypto-assets regulations will be put off until 2024. This makes it a more volatile and less safe financial product compared to those that are already regulated. What is also worrying is the increase in the energy price deepened by the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine which can pose a risk to the value of these currencies. 

And even though the future will determine it, it is evident that fans all over the world have taken these digital assets as part of their relationship with their favourite sport. For that same reason, and because audiences at sports events are massive, cryptocurrencies have started to love sports. The fans’ profiles are those of advanced users of digital technology, and teams and leagues have been pioneers in implementing digital technologies and apps to get in touch with them inside and outside the stadiums. This two-way process explains the great connection developed between cryptocurrencies and NFTs and the sports world. A relationship that will probably go beyond, at least in the near future.


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