Thomas Molander. | September 22 2022
Thomas Molander. | September 22 2022
As of late, the increasing popularity of cryptocurrency payments within the sports industry is a promising sign of growing crypto adoption by some of the world’s top sports teams, leagues, and athletes.
Sports marketing seems to be an advantageous trend for crypto firms. More and more, cryptocurrencies have been popularized in sports sponsorships, deals, and salaries as a method of payment.
Meanwhile, fans and franchises have embraced the security and ease of blockchain-based ticketing, along with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and fan tokens representing a new means for fan engagement within the sports industry.
As the mainstream adoption of decentralized digital assets continues, it’s more important than ever for users to have access to platforms uniting the entire crypto market. Orion Protocol is one such decentralized access point—a revolutionary aggregator of centralized and decentralized crypto exchanges that offers expansive tools to bridge the gap between crypto users and the liquidity they seek.
Let’s take a closer look at how teams, players, and fans are embracing advances within the crypto landscape and where the future of crypto in sports may be headed.
Crypto deals in pro sports are a win-win. Crypto brands have an opportunity to align themselves with beloved public figures who themselves have the opportunity to get involved with crypto companies that can represent investment value, hedges against inflation, and secure, instantaneous transfers.
The involvement of crypto firms in sports shows a strategy for sports leagues and brands to appeal to the everyday crypto enthusiast of the younger generation. This also represents new opportunities for the athletes themselves.
Compared to other high-paying careers, professional sports players tend to spend a relatively short period at peak performance. Stories of top performers who blow through their millions shortly after their playing days come to an end have been sadly common over the years. These days, many players enlist the help of trusted financial advisors to ensure they’re planning for the future.
For example, to secure an income, players are incentivized to enter sponsorship deals or offer a celebrity endorsement to bolster their careers.
It may be inspiring for users in the cryptocurrency space to learn that a growing group of players are being advised to take part or all of their salaries and sponsorship payments in crypto. This kind of use can encourage long-term investment strategies and innovation in sports marketing using crypto.
Crypto payments may offer investment potential and could also serve as hedges against inflation. Cryptocurrencies like the ORN token offer abundant additional revenue streams to holders, while serving as a utility token for the Orion ecosystem and addition opportunities across the market.
One symbol of the large presence of sports deals in crypto was the 2021 renaming of one of America’s most iconic stadiums to “Crypto.com Arena” in this sponsorship in Los Angeles. This arena is home to notable teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Kings, Clippers, and Sparks.
Crypto.com is a company that has since become one of the more innovative crypto brands while being one of the top crypto exchanges by market cap in their market segment.
Sports sponsorships have even been seen in Nascar, like the landmark crypto deal that saw Dogecoin sponsor driver Tom Wise back in 2014. Just this past year, Nascar also saw the debut of the Baby Doge brand in another sponsorship deal.
For players, aligning oneself with crypto projects is also a way of joining the cutting edge of the Web3 ecosystem, which can encourage a sense of connection with the dynamic nature of online sports audiences.
Many recent deals in the sports industry that have seen athletes receive all or part of their salaries in crypto have included partnerships with specific cryptocurrencies or exchanges.
NFL players Odell Beckham Jr. and Aaron Rodgers both announced partnerships with CashApp in 2021 that saw portions of their salaries converted into Bitcoin. Odell Beckham Jr.’s partnership also included a charitable aspect, with $1 million worth of Bitcoin going to followers.
Given the Golden State Warriors’ proximity to Silicon Valley, it may not be surprising that the team’s players are embracing cutting-edge blockchain technology. Players Klay Thompson and Andre Igoudala converted part of their salaries to Bitcoin—calling it “the future of money.”
Other prominent figures who’ve taken part of their salaries in crypto include MLB player Shohei Ohtani, NBA player Cade Cunningham, and NFL player Trevor Lawrence. For now, these salary payments have mostly only included Bitcoin, facilitated through large, centralized tech companies like CashApp.
Today, an overwhelming majority of crypto buyers are under forty years old, and new generations of tech-savvy young athletes can go a long way toward enhancing public education and enthusiasm towards crypto. The future of decentralized finance is made more promising by partnerships like those seen using crypto payments in sports.
In the future, athletes may embrace a wider range of cryptocurrencies and may show interest in controlling their own private keys. If they do, they could benefit from the use of a straightforward, unifying platform in Orion, built for the future of digital assets and creating global access to the largest CEXs and DEXs with aggregated liquidity in one place.
A prominent use case for crypto payments is the purchase of tickets to international sporting events. In the past, buying tickets to sporting events in other countries could be a headache and often involved slow transaction speeds and high fees. Crypto has the potential to help erase this pain point with blazing fast transactions and borderless payments.
This was shown during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, in which fans from all over the world bought tickets to matches using crypto. Crypto-based ticketing can also offer increased security for teams and fans alike.
In June 2020, the prominent FC Barcelona soccer sports team introduced their own crypto fan token. These tokens expand their brand’s value by offering multiple ways to use these tokens to interact with the team. Fans can access VIP experiences, earn memorabilia, and even influence some of the team’s decisions.
Crypto offers plenty of potential for sports ticketing—both as a convenient payment method and because of the underlying security blockchain-based tickets can possess.
Beyond being disappointing to fans, fraudulent tickets can have disastrous effects, as seen at the Champions League final in Paris in 2022 in which conflict stemming from widespread ticket fraud led to violence.
Tickets that integrate blockchain technology often provide unfalsifiable codes, leading to a secure and streamlined experience for fans.
In 2021, one of the world’s biggest ticketing giants, Live Nation, partnered with a blockchain-based payments service. This partnership may hint toward a future wherein payments to all sporting events could be made using crypto.
The Titans and the Kings
The Tennessee Titans were one of the first sports teams to accept Bitcoin payment for tickets, and the Sacramento Kings were one of the first to do so in the NBA. The Dallas Mavericks, owned by noted crypto advocate Mark Cuban, accept both Bitcoin and Dogecoin, while the San Jose Sharks of the NHL accept Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin.
Crypto salary payments and crypto ticketing are two major developments that signal a growing alliance between professional sports and digital assets. Professional athletes are often seen as beloved figures that can lend a relatable face to the crypto market—a world that crypto novices can perceive as being intimidating or complex.
As more teams embrace ticket payments using cryptocurrencies, it will be important for fans to have a user-friendly and secure platform to safely trade their crypto. Orion Terminal is the first decentralized, non-custodial gateway of this sort, providing access to a growing number of blockchains and a vast array of decentralized and centralized exchanges, putting powerful crypto trading tools in the hands of sports fans and crypto enthusiasts.