Sports memorabilia finds new life in NFTs

Sports cards and memorabilia are getting a major upgrade thanks to the rise in NFTs.

Future. Sports cards and memorabilia are getting a major upgrade thanks to the rise in NFTs, shifting the power to new e-commerce first companies while putting fresh capital in the hands of sports leagues and players unions. Like the larger NFT market, sports NFTs may not only have the potential to become a fun asset class, it could (and is already starting to) act as VIP tokens for the most diehard of fans.

Topps to tokens
The blockchain is giving sports memorabilia a new polish.

  • The leader of the pack, Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot, has generated over $700 million in NFT sales in the past year.
  • The once high-flying baseball card company Topps was acquired e-commerce sports company Fanatics in a deal worth $500 million.
  • Fanatics also clinched the card-licensing rights to the MLB, NBA, and NFL.
  • Fantasy-sports company Sorare, which has a strong focus on soccer, tied their digital cards to fantasy play. It’s inked deals with 230 clubs worldwide.
    • Sorare has 1 million users and had a trading volume of $325 million last year.

Trade community
Co-founder Josh Luber and chief visionary officer of Fanatics believe that NFTs are bringing people (especially young people) back to the hobby of sports-card collecting, pointing to the outsized discussion on Discord about the cards, collectibles, and, of course, the players. Heck, they could even drive demand for actual, real-life tickets to games.

But even though Deloitte Global predicts that the sports NFT market will hit $2 billion this year, it’s not necessarily democratized. McKinsey reports that the top 10 percent of buyers account for 67% of the total spend. While part of that reason may be that people are still getting a handle on how to buy NFTs (or a handle on whether they think NFTs are a scam), the speculative nature of NFTs means it’ll probably mirror the actual stock market.