The NFL and Blockchain: How Players Can Benefit from Decentralized Systems

The NFLPA, the players’ union for the National Football League, is teaming up with blockchain startup SportsCastr to help athletes earn cryptocurrency by streaming their commentary on live sports.

The idea is that NFL players (and, according to the NFLPA, eventually athletes from other sports as well) have unique perspectives on the game that a layperson cannot easily replicate. Former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s recent ascension to sportscaster royalty is an excellent example of how well ex-players can see the game (and, in Romo’s case, impart their observations with a certain charismatic exuberance).

While surely not everyone is enamored with Romo’s schtick on CBS, it is undeniable that the viewing public is thirsty for celebrity culture and the opportunity to “interact” with celebrities in a dressed-down atmosphere. Combining general celebrity obsession with the value proposition of elite athletes discussing their trade seems like a solid foundation for a platform. SportsCastr’s service will be called FanChain, and it sounds a bit like Twitch for live sporting events rather than videogames.

As watershed issues like anthem protests, head trauma, and medicinal marijuana have taken center stage in recent years, the contentious relationship between the NFL and NFLPA has reached a fever pitch. Many in the media have been critical of the NFLPA for not doing enough to stand up for its players against the iron fist with which the NFL tends to rule. Lately, however, the NFLPA has shown signs of life, and seeking alternate revenue streams for players is an encouraging development.

You may be asking yourself why NFL players would need additional income when salary and endorsements are so wildly lucrative. But it’s important to remember that the average NFL career is about 3.3 years according to the NFLPA, and that while guys like Odell Beckham, Jr. and Drew Brees may be bringing in 8 figures a year in endorsements, the average NFL player isn’t even in the same stratosphere. Bear in mind, too, that while contracts are becoming somewhat more player friendly, sudden injuries, an all-too-common occurrence in the world’s most violent sport, can be unpredictable and devastating to a career. Combining these factors with a host of well-documented others paints a picture of a labor force that may appear wealthy beyond reason but is often teetering closer to the brink of financial ruin than many fans realize.

Decentralized applications and cryptocurrency generally are great teachers of self-sufficiency (after all, the first lesson many of us learned about cryptocurrency was the set of best practices for managing private keys). So much of blockchain’s value is found in excising superfluous middlemen and bloated institutions looking to capitalize on the work of others. This lesson in democratization is useful for NFL players who want to build their brands off the field. Their remarkable levels of skill, athleticism, and determination have gifted them substantial earning power, and they should be doing everything they can to maximize it during its relatively short lifespan.

While specifics are still scant, there is little doubt the NFL has/will worm itself into the revenue stream to some degree. We’ll be keeping our eye on the great NFL/crypto experiment in the months to come.

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Disclosure: This post, as with all Crypto Economist branded posts, is a personal opinion written for informational purposes only. This post does not constitute investment advice, legal advice, tax advice, or any other sort of advice. Likewise, the information herein should not be interpreted as any endorsement, recommendation, or sponsorship of any particular company, token, or security. Additionally, we are in no way affiliated with SportsCastr, FanChain, the NFL or the NFLPA.