Cryptocurrency is becoming mainstream and professional athletes at the Olympics could drive wider adoption.
Professional athletes are often trendsetters. We wear the clothes they wear, buy the perfumes they promote, and we might even start investing in cryptocurrencies that they support.
Professional athletes, particularly Olympians, have lately expressed increased interest in cryptocurrencies. Their celebrity could have a significant impact on the trajectory of cryptocurrency by opening up the world of cryptocurrency to new niches.
Olympians Have Traditionally Been Forced to Rely on Sponsorships
Olympic athletes, especially those specializing in niche sports, have never found it easy to make ends meet. A BBC article in 2016 noted that athletes are often forced to juggle degrees, multiple jobs, and their training schedules to make their Olympic dreams come true. Although it may have been five years since that article, fundraising is still challenging.
Thus, some Olympians are turning to cryptocurrency — a practice that has some pedigree. In 2014, Dogecoin was used by the Indian and Jamaican teams to raise money to compete in the Olympics. More recently, the US luge team started soliciting donations in Bitcoin, which goes further than a fiat donation could.
Non-Fungible Tokens Have Opened up Unique Ways to Raise Funds
The real push to use cryptocurrency came with the non-fungible token (NFT) craze. These tokens offer a way for athletes to sell digital assets like videos. A well-known example is the NBA’s Top Shot platform, where anyone can buy exclusive rights to video of outstanding basketball plays.
Now Olympians are beginning to move to NFTs. World Champion marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge sold the highlights of his career as an NFT for $50,000 worth of Ethereum. These kinds of NFTs have proven hugely popular. It is likely that other athletes will follow suit as a new way to raise money to fund their Olympic attempts.
Cryptocurrency Has a Difficult Reputation to Overcome
Cryptocurrency has been around for over a decade — and somewhat mainstream for at least five years. Despite this growing adoption, there is still a popular view that cryptocurrency is mostly used by money launderers, criminals, and other malicious actors. This view has hampered adoption and led to some legislators holding a hostile view of the technology.
Athletes adopting NFTs as a fundraising tool could change these perceptions and allow them to crowdfund their efforts via a global fan base. Olympic athletes could then focus on what they do best, making it easier for less affluent athletes to compete.
Celebrity athletes adopting NFTs could show fans and legislators that crypto technology has the power to be a force for positive change in the world. It could also encourage fans of these athletes to check out other cryptos like Bitcoin or Ethereum.
Star power could bring new adopters into the crypto ecosystem and act as a positive driver on prices for cryptocurrency in the long term.
So keep an eye out when you’re watching the Olympics this year, your favorite athlete might just be a hodler.
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