College Athletes Shift To NFTs

Multiple college athletes have begun to release NFT collections instead of pursuing brand endorsements and social media marketing.

NFTs have grown in popularity within several industries, such as music and sports. Both celebrities and corporations have opted to use blockchain technology for its digital use cases, high-profit opportunities, and fan-focused abilities.

NFTs have begun to enter college sports, with many athletes choosing to release their collections or partner with others to grow their brands. Professional basketball players, Luka Garza and Jalen Suggs are two of the first college athletes to mint NFTs and display the benefits of web3. Soon after the success of their collections, many athletes followed in their footsteps. 

As NFTs continue to grow within sports, many brands and organizations have moved to the industry to capitalize on web3’s climb. Katana Capital, a fund that focuses on offering NFT, DAO, and Metaverse opportunities to influencers such as athletes, artists, and actors has shared a few ways their clients can profit. “If you have 1,000 true fans…that’s enough really to have a successful business,” stated Katana founding partner Kuntal Shah. Most brand deals require a certain amount of followers, engagement, or fame, a requirement that limits most influencers from making money off of their name. By providing influencers with web3 opportunities, there are multiple ways that athletes can capitalize on their reputation. 

Similar to Katana Capital, Legacy League offers athletes NFTs, however, only to women in sports and Olympic athletes. The company covers all requirements needed to release a successful NFT collection. Besides creating the project, the platform also provides athletes with 75% of the final sale amount, allowing athletes to earn anywhere from $500 to $20,000. “When NFTs are sold on the blockchain, athletes can receive profits for secondary market sales, which isn’t possible with traditional paper trading cards or autographs,” stated Keith Marshall, founder of The Players’ Lounge and a former NFL player. Considering that athletes are typically limited on time when factoring in practice, games, marketing campaigns, and travel, NFT marketing is the best opportunity available. 

NFT marketing differs from NIL activities such as social media campaigns and brand endorsement because it allows athletes to focus on advertising themselves, giving them control over the products they share with their fans. We’ve seen NFTs utilized in multiple industries and now in college sports, offering another profit avenue for athletes and showcasing the innovation behind blockchain technology. 

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