Globally, the proliferation of blockchain technology has seen many sectors and industries begin to explore what is possible with this latest wave of digital strategisation. Blockchain in athletics is proving to be a powerful new tech, but also an adaptable and flexible one, showing promising use cases.
For the sports industry there are already multiple use cases that have opened up with blockchain technology, and there still is much potential for further exploration. More specifically, use cases for blockchain in athletics have also started gaining traction, and this is showing a new way to digitise the sector.
Areas like funding athletics, the funding of athletes themselves, and fan engagement — as well as monetisation of that fan engagement — have been lacking in the industry thus far. However, blockchain’s flexible application means these issues can be addressed and revolutionised more simply than many would imagine.
From fan tokens and the tokenisation of athletes, to NFT Digital Collectibles blockchain can help bring fans closer to the action while providing previously unheard of revenue streams. Moreover, drug testing and event ticketing on the blockchain means immutable data and efficiency that cannot be doubted.
Running Past the Issues
The sports industry is one that has been on a steady slide as the world has marched forward, digitally. A more digital world has demanded a sharper digital strategy, and not many sectors in the sports industry have reacted. Blockchain for athletics provides a solution to a number of key issues that are dogging athletes today.
Sports funding, the funding of athletes, and fan engagement, as well as monetisation from fans, are issues that have administrators and the athletes themselves scratching their heads. Traditional methods are losing their impetus and further digital demands means a need for fresh ideas. It is this call to digitise that the athletics industry needs to heed.
Already, blockchain has shown promising use cases for the sports industry to better fund the athletes, ensure compliance and engage with the fans.
There has been a timeous turning of the tide for athletes, in the US, as in 2019 the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) board of governors came to a unanimous agreement that college athletes will be able to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness helping them better position themselves in an increasingly competitive industry.
With this, student-athletes are catapulted into new earnings potential, but they can make this process even better by tokenising their likeness to unlock an additional revenue stream for themselves.
It becomes a way to use blockchain for crowdfunding, allowing people to invest in the future success of an athlete, but also benefit from said success. The athlete’s token becomes an investable asset that can help boost their path to success and if that success is realised the investor can earn returns from the initial investment.
This is also nothing new, and it is already being done at the highest level. In 2019, American professional basketball player Spencer Dinwiddie announced he would be tokenising part of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets.
This agreement meant that investors could buy shares of Dinwiddie’s contract with the Nets and would earn an annual yield of around 2.5 percent. For the athlete, he was entitled to an upfront payment rather than needing to wait months or years for his contract to payout.
One area in dire need of improvement in athletics is drug testing. The sport relies on efficient and accurate drug testing and reporting, but current methods are outdated and have been shown to have many holes.
Blockchain technology can record data collected from all stages of the drug testing process and blockchain-based record management systems can also track prescriptions and test results of all athletes along with data encryption. An immutable digital ledger solution can streamline the entire process as well as protect sensitive data to make the entire operation far more streamlined and verifiable.
The use of blockchain technology in drug testing alone can help propel athletics into a new realm where the sport can prove itself to be irreproachable.
Closely linked to tokenising an athlete’s likeness is the creation of fan tokens for that athlete. Fan tokens are arguably one of the more popular use cases for blockchain in sports, and with blockchain for athletics, this still holds true.
Fan tokens have taken other sports by storm already. In other sports, the likes of Juventus and Barcelona are already capitalising with successful fan tokens, and there are talks of fan tokens for teams across the five major U.S.-based sports leagues: NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, and NHL.
Fan tokens offer a new revenue stream, but also create a new way for fans to interact with their favourite athlete or team of athletes. These tokens differ from an investment in a tokenised athlete, or from an NFT, in that they can be traded and used to bolster fan engagement with an athlete.
Fan tokens could be used to decide what colour shirt an athlete wears to an event, how they engage with fans, or what city they visit etc. This drums up excitement and engagement all while helping with added revenue.
NFTs are also worth mentioning as they start to grab a hold of the sporting arena. These tokens are entirely unique and digital, analogous to a trading card, but with all the benefits of blockchain technology. NFTs are desirable collectables that can be designed and specialised around athletics and the athletes themselves, and are already finding their niche in the sporting arena.
From NBA Top Shots, an NFT marketplace for NBA highlight reels that provides individuals with NBA-licensed digital items, to Tom Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, with his own NFT platform called Autograph. There are huge opportunities for athletes and NFTs.
Of course blockchain in athletics is a key tool in increasing fan loyalty and engagement, but on a more practical level, the technology offers the potential to put event ticking on the blockchain.
Using blockchain can increase control over the secondary market of tickets and fight against counterfeits. It can help in limiting access to scalpers and bots trying to secure a large number of tickets for reselling, increase privacy and protect against data breaches. Not to mention the increased efficiency in handling high demands.
A Solution for All
As an athletics association or league, the decision to use blockchain technology may be daunting, but with Protokol an enterprise blockchain provider specialising in the sports industry, creating a purpose-built solution for your organisation is made simple and efficient.
At Protokol, we have a streamlined and modular approach to creating solutions for the sport of athletics and the sports industry in general, an approach that allows for granular customisation, integration with existing solutions, and a simple and effective solution that delivers.
If you want to understand in greater detail how blockchain for athletics can be used to address challenges around funding or additional revenue generation, or you want help to achieve better fan engagement and growth, have a conversation with our experts.
We’ll help you explore how blockchain tech can help you increase athlete funding and leverage new revenue streams as well as help on more practical levels such as planning, building and implementing your solution. Contact us, to learn more, here: protokol.com/contact/, or to learn more about how blockchain is being applied into other areas of the sports industry, visit our blockchain in sports page here: protokol.com/industries/sports-industry/