March 16, 2024 5 min read

Sports has always been driven by fan engagement, and it exists because of the fans. The industry is also always looking for ways to implement new technologies to promote and sustain fan engagement and interactions.

One of the ways this has been done lately is through the use of NFTs. Just a few years ago, they were just a novelty in the world of blockchain technology, but now they are widely used as a way to approve and transfer ownership in sports and beyond.

What Are NFTs?

NFTs stand for Non-Fungible Tokens. It’s a type of digital asset made to represent ownership or a proof of authenticity.

Unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, which are fungible and can be exchanged on a one-to-one basis, NFTs are unique and cannot be exchanged on a like-for-like basis.

The ownership of these assets is recorded on blockchain code. This ensures the authenticity and uniqueness of each transaction and, therefore, each NFT. They are popular in digital art but also used in sports and every other field where collecting items can be lucrative or fun.

How Are NFTs Used in Sports?

NTF inscription on cubes against the background of dollars and microcircuits

NFTs are used in sports in many different ways. They offer unique opportunities for fans to engage with the teams, the leagues, and each other.

Many betting sites also use NFTs to promote user loyalty - visit to compare different offers and bonus options.

Collectibles and Memorabilia

Fans can use NFTs to collect and trade memorabilia and collectibles related to their favorite team, league, or player. This includes virtual trading cards, highlight reels, and moments coming out of the games as they happen.

NFTs can be authenticated via blockchain; therefore, the code guarantees the authenticity of memorabilia. As is the case with any other memorabilia, real or digital, the rarer it is, the more valuable it becomes to the collectors. An interesting thing about using NFTs is that they allow the fans to have communal ownership over such memorabilia.

Fan Engagement and Rewards

NFTs play a significant role in encouraging fan engagement and rewarding loyalty. These interactions get the so-called attention economy going, and the clubs and leagues encourage it. The teams, leagues, and events are driving fan engagement by encouraging the fans to collect, share, and sell the NFT memorabilia and create communities around them.

The rewards can come in the form of memorabilia about the team or great games that everyone wants to treasure. They can also be tickets or access to special events or discounts for tickets made for loyal fans.

Virtual Ownership and Governance

Smaller teams and leagues are using NFTs similarly to those used for online businesses. The ownership over a team or a league is represented via NFT ownership. This means every NFT fan owns a portion of a team or has a stake in a minor and local league.

With small local teams, fans and NFT owners can govern the team on their own, at least to an extent. It’s possible to do so even when owners are based worldwide, as long as there are clear mechanisms for voting and making decisions.

Tickets and Access

NFTs can be used as digital tickets for games or other sports events. They are immutable and provide a secure way to validate that the tickets are legit and paid for. NFT-based ticketing systems can help prevent fraud, scalping, and ticket counterfeiting while enabling easier transfer and resale of tickets among fans.

Buying tickets in the form of NFTs is best done using cryptocurrencies. It comes with additional benefits, such as not having to provide banking details and making instant transfers with little to no fees.

Personal Branding and Athlete Endorsement

Many athletes have created their personal ETFs to promote their brand and create a personal bond with the fans. It also creates a new income stream for the players, bypassing the team, league, and other intermediaries.

NFTs produced by the players and their teams are also interesting creative outlets that continue to grow in value as time goes by. These tokens become a sign of the age in which they are made and the unique look and feel of the internet culture at the time.


NBA Top Shots

NBA Tops Shots is an NFT project set up and organized by the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) in collaboration with Dapper Labs.

It combined the moments from NBA games and the advantages of blockchain technology by turning the videos into NFTs that fans can collect and share.

The concept quickly became very popular as a community grew around it.

The connection between the players and the fan community grew stronger as NFTs created additional interest in every game and the interesting moments that marked it.

UFC Strike

Following along after the successes of the NBA, UFC created its own NFT project based on the same principle. The league created immersive digital assets that were also the basis for the community of fans. Fans can participate in auctions, trade assets, and even receive exclusive rewards.

This created a complex ecosystem for the fans to follow the matches and collect NFTs as memorabilia for those matches. In the long run, it has also created new fan communities that started with NFT collecting and found love for the sports in the process.


Sorare is one of the biggest NFT sports platforms out there, and it’s based on a mixture of fantasy football and NFT collecting. It’s a French company, but it works with many national leagues to create fantasy counterparts and unique NFTs based on the likeness of actual players and moments from actual games. Their latest deal was made with the English Premier League.

With three million global players, Sorare grew extensively in 2022, reaching new partnerships with the NBA and MLB to introduce licensed basketball and baseball versions of its game, respectively. The most expensive Sorare card was sold for $687,000 at auction.


NFL All Day

NFLs ventured into NFTs in a partnership with Dapper Labs, the same company that worked with the NBA. It created an NFT collectible set called Moments – licensed video highlights from the best moments of the recent games. These have their own series of numbers to make sure that they are authentic and come in different tiers and values.

Some of these cards are rather rare, and there’s already a market for them, with their value going up as soon as new Moments are created. Early additions or final additions are considered more valuable.

To Sum Up

NFTs have proven to be interesting technical advancements that have found applications in many industries, including sports and entertainment.  NFTs have been widely used in the world of sports memorabilia. They provide a way to secure unique content and create an immutable ledger when making collections.

Some of the major leagues in the world, such as the NFL and NBA, are already using them, and so are some of the individual players. NFTs are also used with small teams and leagues as a way to create shared ownership and governance of the league. Fantasy sports also utilize NFTs, which are now a multi-billion dollar business.

Author - Fred Felton
Fred Felton          

Content Creator / Editor

Fred Felton is a copywriter, editor and social media specialist based in Durban, South Africa. He has over 20 years of experience in creating high end content. He has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. Currently Fred specialises in the adventure watersports space, focussing on surf, kayak and rafting. He is also a keynote speaker and has presented talks and workshops in South Africa.

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