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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Derrick

Crypto in sport: is the downfall already happening?

Updated: Aug 9, 2022

A few months ago I wrote about my weariness of Web3 - most of which was led, I've since realised, by my greater weariness of cryptocurrency. Web3 has been pitched to so many of us with crypto as the enabler to which we'll be able to create so much of it. Web3 is the opportunity but the expectation is that we need the flexibility of cryptocurrency (hint, maybe we don't).

Sport sponsorship is how crypto has been building its reputation, pitching itself as a tool to enhance the fan experience. NFTs, digital packages, virtual worlds or tours are the exciting new elements of sport fandom after all.

However, as quick as crypto sport sponsorship has taken off, we're seeing government and fan bodies work to put a stop to it. Considered by many as being as dangerous as betting brands, I suspect there will be some frustrated companies who signed 10-20 year contracts with crypto brands, only to see legislation begin arising that may mean hefty pay outs or worse still, the crypto crash we’re looking at right now. In fact, the US National Women’s Soccer League is about to enter financial difficulty due to one of their biggest sponsors, Voyager Digital, filing for bankruptcy. The NBA's Dallas Mavericks, whilst less affected given their net worth, will also be licking their wounds as another sponsee of Voyager. And yes, Voyager might be a smaller crypto company, we should be viewing this as prominent sign of just how unstable the landscape is fairing.

So where to from here, especially from a Web3 perspective? Well, as I see it, there are two possible routes:

  1. Crypto stabilises again: we continue as we are but with a bit more wit about us. Perhaps shorter deals, tighter legislation, a look to include more guardrails and safety measures

  2. We mix Web3 with Web2, call it Web2.5 if you will: all the opportunity of Web3 but with payment via Web2 – PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay etc.. This means creating or bettering a Blockchain that utilises these sorts of payments or formation of tokens that are within the financial authorities. This ensures we get the unique, authentic and exclusive nature of what the Blockchain allows but without the financial risk placed on us by crypto.

The latter brings many positives that will no doubt be front-of-mind for rights holders and sports brands. These include:

  • Trusted and better protected from market crashes or hack scams

  • Stability of the market

  • Accessible by all including no reliance on mum and dad having crypto

  • Less environmental impact

  • An ability to ease into the Web3 world, with a focus on creativity and positive output

Who really knows what’s going to happen as we stand at these crossroads, watching patiently. Either way, we need to be flexible, with a focus on creative excellence and a dash of caution.

What are your predictions?

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