As crypto and blockchain were pushed further and further into the mainstream consciousness over the course of 2018, it was sporting stars who may have shoved it over the edge.
US Major League Baseball team the LA Dodgers announced in September that it would hold a token giveaway using Ethereum’s ERC-20 platform, with chief marketing officer Lon Rosen saying: “We’re excited about our first-ever crypto giveaway, and to explore an entirely new marketplace with our fan base. We hope this piques the interest of Dodger fans and will help launch a new age of digital collectibles and promotions.”
Earlier in the summer, the Sacramento Kings basketball team announced a similar plan, partnering with crypto hardware mining firm Mingstore in order to raise money for scholarships.
The Fan-Controlled Football League (FCFL), which came back into the spotlight in December, might mark one of the biggest partnerships between the worlds of sport and crypto to date. The FCFL launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise over $5 million in funding, but this was mysteriously stopped.
But that didn’t prevent the organisation from hiring high-profile American Football players Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman, who both play for the NFL.
Of course football fans weren’t left out, with plenty of stories that included returning English Premier League team the Wolverhampton Wanderers teaming up with crypto exchange CoinDeal and advertising the firm on its new shirts. Leicester City also inked a deal with blockchain firm FansUnited.
Following on from this were Newcastle United and Cardiff City, who both joined up with SportyCo in an attempt to raise funds through their own cryptocurrency. Outside of this, influential figures such as Michael Owen have also spoken openly in support of crypto over the year.
Then Italian football club Rimini took an even bolder step and sold its shares using Gibraltar-based cryptocurrency Quantocoin to Heritage Sports Holdings, leaving the company with around 25 per cent.
Giorgio Grassi, president of Rimini, said of the move: “Heritage Sports Holdings, with its partner Quantocoin, will try to bring to the team and to the city new ideas and synergies from the sporting, brand image and technological point of views. HSH’s participation is innovative in view of its crypto payment system and its use of blockchain technology.”
In the summer, however, Australian cricketer Michael Clarke found himself caught up in a row over endorsing Global Tech Exchange, which had launched its ICO. The sportsman tweeted: “I am really excited to be involved with Global Tech. Their ambition and drive is something that I resonated with straight away and I can’t wait to learn more about blockchain technologies.”
Australian investor John Hempton quickly hit out at Clarke, comparing crypto to ‘sandpaper’ that would do even more damage to his reputation.
There are still people waiting to be convinced, then, but the sporting world’s influence cannot be underestimated. Global and more popular than any other pastime, sport might well be the key to unlocking crypto’s mainstream potential.