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Bitcoin has experienced seismic growth in the past few months: its price has risen dramatically since January 2021 and is expected to continue to trend upward. This growth underscores bitcoin’s massive potential as an investment asset. For this reason, pro athletes and major sports clubs are capitalizing on Bitcoin. For instance, Russell Okung, a Carolina Panthers offensive tackle, recently became the first NFL player to receive a salary in bitcoin.

In this article, we will explore the future of Bitcoin in sports. But first, why are pro athletes shifting to investing in bitcoin?

Why Pro Athletes Are Investing In Bitcoin

1. To Have More Control Over Their Wealth

Bitcoin gives athletes more control over their money by cutting intermediaries. Many athletes have endorsements and corporate sponsorship deals. The agencies that manage these deals end up taking a significant amount of money.

By using bitcoin, athletes can enter deals without necessarily going through middlemen services like the kind agents offer. These endorsements involve large amounts of money. Using bitcoin for payment helps to avoid high taxation as the capital gain’s rate can sometimes be lower than ordinary income tax, depending on your jurisdiction.

2. Bitcoin Provides Privacy And Security

The government and sponsoring companies track athletes’ spending habits. In addition, their high profile and fame can get athletes targeted by fraudsters and scammers. Bitcoin gives high-profile athletes a sense of security by keeping their identities private should they decide to take the necessary privacy precautions.

3. Investment

Bitcoin is one of the fastest-growing sectors of financial technology. By investing in the industry, athletes are poised to reap massive profits. Some top athletes with massive investments in cryptocurrency include Lionel Messi, Nikita Kucherov, Floyd Mayweather, and Matt Barkley.

NFL and NBA Investments In Bitcoin

The Sacramento Kings became the first NBA franchise to accept payment in bitcoin in 2014. The aim was to enhance the customer experience when buying season tickets and merchandise. In April of 2020, the Kings announced, according to Forbes,  that players on the team would be eligible to receive their salary in bitcoin. 

In 2019, the Dallas Mavericks started accepting bitcoin as a payment method for merchandise and tickets. Similarly, the Miami Dolphins started accepting bitcoin payments during the 2019/2020 NFL season.

Athletes’ Involvement In Bitcoin

Russell Okung is the Vice President of the NFL Players’ Association and a former Los Angeles Chargers left tackle. However, his name hit news headlines when he became the first NFL athlete to receive a salary in bitcoin. It all started when he visited his ancestral home in Nigeria and was unsuccessful in trying to make a bank transfer from his US account.

This incident pushed Okung towards bitcoin. In fact, he tweeted, “Pay me in bitcoin,” in May 2019. Although the Chargers declined the request, Trezor offered Okung a free wallet. He recently received further good news: the Carolina Panthers will pay half of Okung’s $13 million salary in bitcoin. Nevertheless, the Panthers will not be paying the player in bitcoin directly. Instead, they will send the funds to Strike, a platform that converts payments to bitcoin, which will, in turn, pay Okung in bitcoin.

Strike is also planning to attract pro basketball and baseball athletes, according to Coindesk, and New York Yankees baseball players and Brooklyn Nets basketball players have joined the program. Matt Barkley is already into bitcoin mining, according to his twitter. Without a doubt, Okung has set the ball rolling.

Oakland Athletics Selling Tickets For Bitcoin

One critical development in Bitcoin adoption in sports is accepting bitcoin as payment for ticketing. The COVID-19 pandemic has discouraged the handling of paper money, a trend that was already in motion prior to the virus. Bitcoin is becoming more widely accepted for convenience and health reasons.

Accepting bitcoin is a meaningful way for teams to rake in more dollars as they wait for the normal resumption of sports activities. Essentially, a shift towards bitcoin will characterize the new normal. The Oakland Athletics are a pioneer of using bitcoin in professional baseball for full-service payment.

Bitcoin In Soccer Transfers

One of the most intriguing actions in soccer is the buying and selling of players. During every transfer window, soccer teams spend a gargantuan sum of money. Upcoming youngsters are fetching as much as €100 million.

Using bitcoin for transfers is a new milestone in the sports industry. In 2018, Harunustaspor from Turkey signed Omer Faruk Kirogul at a cost 0.0524 bitcoin. Inter Madrid also pulled off a unique signing by buying David Barral from Real Madrid B using bitcoin.

Club And Team Sponsorships

If you are a keen sports enthusiast, you might have seen the names of major bitcoin exchanges on sports attire. Bitcoin exchanges’ names are now commonplace in tournaments. A deal between FTX cryptocurrency exchange and the NBA for the naming rights to the Miami Heat’s arena is close to completion, at a price of $135 million for 19 years.  

In 2014, BitPay sponsored the St. Petersburg Bowl to promote Bitcoin. Similarly, eToro, a trading platform based in the UK, is sponsoring several EPL soccer clubs, including Crystal Place, Tottenham Hotspurs, Leicester City, Southampton, Brighton, and Hove Albion FC. The EPL is one of the biggest soccer leagues in the world and boasts immense popularity.

In general, bitcoin can be used to pay for player transfers, reduce ticket scalping, and authenticate merchandise. Another example, In 2018, Gibraltar United football club paid their players in bitcoin. These developments highlight Bitcoin’s massive potential in sports.

The Future Of Bitcoin In Sports

With Bitcoin increasing in popularity, its adoption in sports will continue to rise. In the next year, we will likely see more clubs entering into sponsorships with bitcoin-related firms. Moreover, more clubs will shift to using bitcoin as their payment method for players’ wages and transfers. Like in other industries, the future of Bitcoin in sports is bright.

This is a guest post by Michael. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC, Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.