While not a mainstream technological and financial trend just yet, blockchain and cryptocurrencies were recently thrust into the mainstream by the NBA’s Sacramento Kings in a surprise announcement.
Unveiled in a press release published on Monday, the team has created a “blockchain-powered reward program” that involves a “blockchain-driven token” — better known as a crypto or digital asset for those not a fan of marketing buzzwords.
Sacramento Kings Launch Crypto-Enabled App
In collaboration with Blockparty — a blockchain platform meant for “live event ticketing, fan engagement and tokenized gamification” — the Sacramento Kings will be implementing a free blockchain rewards system into the NBA’s first predictive gaming application, “Call the Shot”.
The release says that Blockparty will track the engagements of Kings fans, while also allowing users to accumulate points, previously described as “blockchain-driven tokens”, in a digital wallet. These points can be used to redeem “prizes and unique events including signed merchandise and courtside tickets.”
Vivek Ranadivé, the chief executive of the Sacramento Kings, took some time to laud blockchain technologies and its applications in the NBA’s gaming app in a press comment:
“We have only just begun to see the benefits of blockchain technology as it transforms the way business is conducted worldwide, ensuring secure transactions across multiple sectors and customers. We are committed to continuing to deliver the best fan experience and are excited to bring this transformative technology to life to award our loyal fans through experiences in a secure and transparent way.”
Ranadivé’s commitment to the cryptocurrency cause stretches way back. In 2014, the Kings famously became the first NBA team to accept Bitcoin as a way to pay for items at the Kings Team Store. And in 2018, the Kings launched their own crypto asset mining operation in-house, which was established to donate funds mined to workforce development for an initiative dubbed MiningForGood.
Sports and Crypto, a Trend
This is far from the first time that a professional sports team or all-star athlete has shown their support for the cryptocurrency movement.
As reported by Blockonomi earlier this year, the Miami Dolphins teamed up with the Litecoin Foundation earlier this year to make LTC the NFL team’s official cryptocurrency. This collaboration allows for attendees of Dolphins games to purchase 50/50 raffle tickets with Bitcoin and Litecoin. It also “gives Litecoin the ability to tap into one of the NFL’s largest and most passionate fan bases” via branding and advertisements at the Dolphins’ home arena, the Hard Rock Stadium.
More recently, English Premier League football team, Watford FC, announced that as part of a sponsorship deal with Sportsbet.io, a variant of the Bitcoin logo would appear on the sleeves of the club’s jerseys.
Although not the be all and end all of adoption, these cases of cryptocurrency support by some of the world’s largest sports clubs can’t hurt, right?
Not Everyone’s a Fan
While most in the professional athletics industry seem to be over the moon about cryptocurrencies, there is one notable detractor: Mark Cuban.
The billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, a franchise of the NBA, recently explained in a WIRED interview that he isn’t a fan of Bitcoin. In fact, as we reported previously, the business mogul said that much like a baseball card or a piece of artwork, which are nice to look at and collect, Bitcoin does not have much of an underlying purpose.
And on the matter of cryptocurrencies at large, he said that “99% of the population” would find this asset class too complicated. “Should I put crypto on my device? Should I print out the key? Should I let someone host the cryptocurrency for me?”, Cuban remarked as he tried to convey the relative difficulty of using an asset like Bitcoin over, say, a dollar.