Web3 meets sports: a record-breaking collision?

Article originally published in Bilan

The Journal of Applied Sports Management recently released a study on the influence of the metaverse and Web3 on professional sports. The conclusion: these technologies may profoundly change the industry.

Sports performance in the era of Web3: train in virtual, improve for real?

Elite athletes rely on cutting-edge technologies to analyze their performance and develop new training methods. The use of these tools improves athletic performance and better supports them in their recovery phase.

The advent of disruptive Web3 and metaverse technologies will take things to the next level: augmented and virtual reality will pave the way for more effective training sessions.

man playing soccer in VR

The NFL, the American professional football league, has established a partnership with the company Strivr to develop virtual training sessions. NFL athletes use an immersive digital environment that simulates real game scenarios, boosting their decision-making and tactical skills without the physical toll of actual gameplay.

Immersion and blockchain: a revolution in sports economics?

Athletes aren’t the only ones seeking immersion; fans crave it too. Using virtual reality to bring spectators closer to the action can provide them with an enhanced and innovative experience.

This trend towards immersion permeates every aspect of sports economics, from entertainment to merchandising to performance development. The entire value chain stands to be transformed by these new technologies.

Merchandising is undergoing a major transformation. Historically, the economic system of professional sports has relied on the sale of physical items: jerseys, scarves, caps, and the like.

However, the emergence of Web3 and blockchain-related technologies, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs), is redefining merchandising. The adoption of secure digital ownership authentication systems signals an expansion of merchandising beyond the physical realm, venturing into a digital frontier offering both tangible and virtual items.

In early July 2023, the Swiss national women’s soccer team launched an NFT art collection in collaboration with Credit Suisse. Created by artist Daniela Filippelli, the collection features 756 NFTs portraying the players, with prices ranging from 150 to 10,000 CHF (available until August 31st).

This trend is seen across all facets of sports economics. The Orange Vélodrome, a renowned stadium in Marseille, France, offered its fans a unique way to experience sports events. This was made possible by the combined efforts of the virtual reality studio Novelab, Orange’s “Lab Inno”, and the Fisheye agency. Together, they developed an immersive experience powered by 5G technology that elevated spectator perception.

Sports and the metaverse: staying ahead of the game

The integration of Web3 and the metaverse into sports signals more than just technological advancement; it heralds a seismic shift, reframing our understanding in an increasingly hybrid, digital landscape. Future sports will undeniably center around digital dynamics.

A few months ago, the Swiss watchmaking brand Hublot launched its “Hublot Loves Football [Soccer] Metaverse Stadium”, a hybrid space designed to host digital exhibitions and events related to soccer.

The connection between real-world sports and their virtual counterparts reflects a natural evolution, paving the way for a more integrated union.

This “phygital” blend foreshadows the monumental challenge awaiting professional sports. They must reinvent themselves amidst augmented and virtual realities while drastically reshaping their economic structure and governance model.

The race towards Web3 is well underway, and it promises to deliver a dazzling show!

Image of Mathieu Ragetly

Written by: Mathieu Ragetly, Digital Marketing and Experience EVP and Web3 Program Director at Mantu

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