With the craze surrounding cryptocurrency, it was only a matter of time before the sports world joined in. With the NBA leading the way with NFTs (non-fungible tokens) in crypto-collectible digital media, other leagues want a cut of the success, too. Now, both the MLB and NHL are finding ways to incorporate crypto into their businesses, and it’s only just the beginning. Many players are ahead of the game, receiving cryptocurrency as a portion of their salary.
The appeal of cryptocurrency in the sports world
First things first. A basic overview of cryptocurrency: High-powered computers digitally mine Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies and store them on a blockchain, or a public ledger of all transactions. The appeal, in addition to potentially incurring a large profit based on the volatile market, is the heightened security of the blockchain and the presumption that it’s the currency of the future.
Many sports stars are taking action now to get a piece of the profits. Trevor Lawrence signed a deal with crypto investment platform Blockfolio. His sign-on bonus was all paid in cryptocurrency. Other players are following suit and adding clauses in contracts to receive crypto as part of payments.
Patrick Mahomes dabbled in the world of NFTs, launching a digital art gallery and selling pieces to benefit his foundation. In an age where the technology exists for players to expand their brand and wealth, many find digital currencies as a way to achieve financial success.
How the MLB is incorporating cryptocurrency
While the MLB didn’t initially accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment, things are starting to change. Players, managers, and owners look for ways to incorporate it into their own lives. New York Yankees manager, Aaron Boone, revealed in an interview via Fox Business that players and managers constantly discuss Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the clubhouse. He says many on his staff have invested, and even he has “dabbled a little bit” in the market.
He’s also involved in Athlete Direct, a platform where athletes can sell their sports memorabilia directly to fans. The site includes an option to use NFTs, a baby step to get players and fans used to digital currency.
But one of the most surprising moves came from the Oakland A’s. In an unprecedented move, the baseball team became the first MLB team to sell a luxury box for one Bitcoin. Voyager Digital was the buyer. Around the time of the A’s announcement, their bitcoin purchase was reportedly worth about $59,240, according to CoinDesk. The going price for the suites was $64,800.
Don’t count out the NHL
With the NBA, MLB, and NFL players starting to get involved in cryptocurrencies, the NHL decided to test the waters too. The San Jose Sharks will start accepting cryptocurrency payments for larger-scale items next season. This includes things like season tickets and suite leases, according to NBC Sports. The team president, Jonathan Becher, said that other purchases, like single-game tickets and merchandise, will be evaluated and considered in the future.
Because the organization accepts Paypal payments, and they accept cryptocurrencies, it helped the team make the decision. Becher explained his reasoning. “We’re accepting PayPal, so then by definition, we’re accepting cryptocurrency. Why not embrace it and make it more visible as opposed to just doing it through a third party?”
With more and more sports teams finding ways to incorporate cryptocurrency into their rotation, look for it to become a normalized process in the future.