Thoughts on the future of work, from the people and teams creating it.

NFTs for College Athletes

There is no better time to be a college athlete. With the NCAA permitting sponsorship deals for its students, today’s game has become a wild-west for new emerging technologies and opportunities for students to profit off of their own NIL (Name, Image, Likeness).

One of the biggest and most revolutionary of these opportunities is the ability to design and launch one’s very own NFT, a Non-Fungible Token. This new blockchain technology is already making waves in the pro-sports world with big-name legends such as Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Mike Tyson, and Tiger Woods getting in on the action.

With NFTs just now gaining traction in the NCAA, now is the time for student athletes to capitalize on a new potential source of income and jump on the cutting edge of a revolution in sports-tech!

What are NFTs and what will be their application in college sports?

On a high level, NFTs are digital-assets that can be traded digitally using the same programming as crypto-currency. Though unlike a currency, each NFT is completely unique and has its own value. The best way to conceptualize this would be to think of an NFT as a digital art-piece that can be collected and traded online.

Since they operate on a blockchain, they have a unique advantage to physical art in that they can code extra features into the terms of trade such as perpetual royalties to the initial creator and can more easily confirm authenticity/previous ownership.

NFTs will likely be one of the most accessible ways for college athletes to monetize their NIL. They are a great opportunity for student athletes as they will be able to “mint” (the process of creating an NFT on the blockchain) and sell their digital assets as an extra revenue stream without the need for negotiating a sponsorship deal. Right now the main use case has been as a digital playing card (such as NBA Top Shot) but down the road they could offer more exclusive fan interactions and revenue streams which we will discuss later.

Though why do people want to buy these digital assets? Couldn’t they just screen-shot the digital art work and say they own that NFT now?

Well, there are three primary reasons why NFTs have value:

1. Their value is defined by the community and by collectors

What makes any art-piece or trading card valuable? Nearly always, creative pieces become expensive collectibles due to the community that appreciates and collects them.

This is particularly true for sports NFTs; there are already huge markets for baseball cards and these can fetch millions of dollars a piece. Yet these pieces were not even directly made or influenced by the athlete on the card. Now imagine the popularity that could arise from one produced by the college athletes themselves!

2. They can offer unique utility/benefits to the owner

NFTs can be minted with extra-utility to the end user. Opportunities to meet the athlete through signings or join them in a social outing is a possibility that can be purchased in the terms of the sale of the token!

3. They are truly authentic

One of the common arguments against the value of an NFT is that it’s already online, you can already see the art-work for free. Well that’s also the case for expensive art-work!

Think of the Mona Lisa: you can take photos of it and make reproductions, but there is only one canvas painted by Da Vinci. The original piece is completely priceless, and other works by DaVinci have fetched millions of dollars. Yet those art-pieces are also visible online. The difference is that the originals have collectible value due to their authenticity.

How are NFTs an opportunity for college athletes?

We at Draftly believe there will be three primary ways creating NFTs can uniquely benefit college athletes:

1. They can serve as an additional and long-term source of revenue

Without the need to negotiate a contract or attract the attention of sponsors, athletes can mint their own NFTs and have complete control over the revenue it generates. Think of this as just a virtual extension of selling your own clothing and merchandise.

However, unlike selling physical merchandise, it doesn’t take a lot of capital to invest in the creation of your own NFT. This makes them incredibly accessible to even the most hungry college students sustaining themselves on ramen diets!

Each time an NFT is sold, the original minter, or in this case the student athlete, can receive a cut of the profit of sale! This means that money can be made from both the initial creation of the art-piece as well as future transactions, making NFTs a great long-term source of revenue long past a student’s college career.

2. They are a great way to build and expand a fanbase and are an opportunity to increase brand visibility

Students build their brand presence on social media platforms, now new fans can discover your NFT highlight reel or digital creation and buy directly into your success!

NFTs offer new opportunities for internet virality — if a fan base develops around collecting your digital creations, your own brand stock increases. If you make a great catch or a play that’s a viral sensation, fans that may have never heard your name prior can buy a piece of history by purchasing the NFT immortalizing this moment!

Building a brand as a student athlete, no-matter your current prominence in the sports world, is important because it can attract additional sponsors. Furthermore, NFT goes viral and you become a bigger name, this celebrity status could increase your position in drafts for professional sports.

3. Interact with existing fanbases in more meaningful ways

Although there are potentially endless possibilities for college athletes to interact with their fans digitally with NFTs, some of the most common ones currently are the ability to sell tickets and other fan experiences through the purchase of an NFT.

Furthermore, your home-town or college-town audience can buy your art or your highlights to support you, leading to stronger ties to those communities.

How can you as a college athlete get involved?

You can get started today by taking a design and minting it as your own NFT on platforms such as OpenSea! Just take any digital image or video of which you have the rights, and mint it on their marketplace.

However, when done independently, this process can be difficult and time consuming. It can be particularly challenging to find the right designers, and actually getting buyers to discover your digital masterpiece can be an incredibly daunting task.

This is where Draftly can serve a student athlete such as yourself! We have just minted and launched the first NFT for an active NCAA Men’s Basketball Player and are spearheading the launch of many more in the coming months.

If you are a college athlete interested in jumping into the world of NFTs be sure to reach out to us and see how we can help out!