• With NFL’s Dak Prescott on Ethernity Chain, sports NFTs are on the rise

  • There’s something deeply satisfying about owning something special and one-of-a-kind. It is unique in that it represents a significant person, event, or item. It is unique in the sense that it is one of a kind, or even one of a few. For sports fans, this has long been a celebrated hobby, with sports cards and collectibles serving as a mainstay for many years. However, it is not just a desire for collectibles that drives the market: over a dozen 1 million USD sports card sales have occurred since 2020 alone. There is real money to be made, and collectibles come in all shapes and sizes. Items auctioned off for large sums in US football include the Green Bay Packers 1921 franchise certificate (20K USD), William ‘Refrigerator’ Perry’s Super Bowl XX Ring (203K USD), and ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger’s Gear from his whopping 27 seconds of playtime with Notre Dame (241K USD).

    Combining sports collectibles with NFTs appears to be the most obvious mashup ever, with over 1.5 billion USD in trading volume in Q1 2021 alone. That doesn’t take away from how innovative and exciting it is for fans, enthusiasts, and collectors. As more sports organizations join the NFT wave, NFL fans have all but demanded that the United States begin producing high-quality collectibles for their favorite teams and players.

    Where have all the NFL NFTs gone?

    Surprisingly, the NFL has remained largely silent on their plans for NFT lineups. Other sports organizations in the United States and around the world, most notably the NBA, have created a variety of limited edition or one-of-one NFTs for collectors, such as the Top Shot digital packs.

    The leading NFT market innovators have not sat back and waited for sports organizations to decide on a strategy. Instead, they’ve been collaborating with top athletes to release individualized NFT lines for their fans and savvy collectors. For example, the WWE’s Undertaker now has a line of bronze/silver NFT tokens priced between $200 and 2,000 USD. Single gold and platinum NFTs were available for auction in video form for $30,000 and $100,000 USD, respectively, and came with extra perks such as signed physical memorabilia and VIP tickets.

    While this may appear to be a large sale for an NFT, it pales in comparison to Ethernity’s jaw-dropping Lionel Messi one-of-one NFT sale of one million USD on the platform. Ethernity is currently hosting an official line of Messi NFTs, dubbed the “Messiverse,” with varying prices and quantities available.

    NFTs are clearly taking over the collector markets in all sports. But where does the NFL fit into all of this?

    The official answer is unknown at this time, but the same platform that worked with Messi’s NFT line (Ethernity) has been working directly with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and is teasing a major NFT drop to coincide with the upcoming season opener on September 9, 2021. The buzz among cryptocurrency enthusiasts, football fans, and memorabilia collectors of all kinds is palpable. Social media is exploding with speculation and questions about what will be included in the NFT line for Prescott, but if previous drops are any indication, this one will sell out quickly as well.

    What Does All of This Mean for Collectibles?

    For those of you who are still reading but aren’t yet ecstatic about this and future sports NFT drops—particularly the nearly untouched NFL market—look let’s at the broader implications of what NFTs mean for the collectibles industry.

    To begin, why should we be concerned about NFTs? What are they in the context of sports collectibles, and why should I care? NFTs (non-fungible tokens, which cannot be duplicated) solve a critical issue for any collectible: Authenticity. When you have a collectible, especially memorabilia, the entire value is determined by whether you can prove it is authentic. Given that collectibles are kept for years or decades, it’s easy to see the risk of losing proof of authenticity or having what proof you have rejected. The authenticity of NFTs is imprinted on the NFT via the blockchain and is both permanent and immutable. The most serious risk of collecting is essentially eliminated. Furthermore, having guaranteed quantities minted of a given NFT prevents market dilution and can result in significant value growth over time.

    The only other risk is not being able to find the price you want, which does not appear to be an issue right now or in the near future. The Messi NFT is already listed at a 9 Million USD price tag, up from its initial purchase price of 1 Million USD, and could find a buyer at any time. It is reasonable to expect a lot of competition for initial purchases and even more activity in the secondary market for the Dak Prescott NFT line, which represents one of the very first NFL NFT lines and will be handled by a top NFT marketplace. Having one of the first NFL NFTs means having an asset with several value-enhancing characteristics. While nothing in life is guaranteed, being the first to introduce a new innovation, especially in a field as competitive as collectibles, is exciting and potentially lucrative.

    What Will Happen Next?

    There is always uncertainty in the future, but looking at repeating patterns can be useful. Based on our experience with other collectible markets, we can conclude:

    • The combination of a new technology’s innovation and cool factor
    • Packaged with the blockchain aspects of NFTs that eliminate the most significant risk of collectibles (authenticity)
    • Other sports-related NFTs have already seen a drop in resale values.

    All of this points to significant growth in the future.

    While the NFL may be only a few days or weeks away from announcing their NFT plans, many a crypto investor, NFL fan, and sports collector will want to get in on the first few football-driven NFT drops.

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