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Mark Cuban and the Mainstream Adoption of Crypto in Sports

And with that one tweet, the tech blogs were ablaze.

Mark Cuban (in a two-word tweet reply) indicated last month that the Dallas Mavericks would begin accepting payment for tickets in the form of cryptocurrency starting next season. Cuban is obviously a long-time technology and media pioneer, rising to fame as an energetic young billionaire owner of an NBA team; a self-made entrepreneur who accumulated the base of his wealth in the early internet days. Cuban launched into a different stratosphere of fame with Shark Tank, the startup-focused television program where he serves as host, investor, and producer. It is no surprise that Cuban would be the first owner to dip his toes into the waters of crypto payments.

Cuban was himself a bit skeptical of Bitcoin in the early days, telling Entrepreneur.com in 2014 that he hadn’t invested in it “yet,” and adding further that “I go up and down on it.” At the 2014 SXSW conference, Cuban explained that while Bitcoin was probably “great as an encryption technology,” he did not see it having a great future as a true cryptocurrency.

But it now seems that Mark, as with much of the world, has changed his tune. Cuban now frequently discusses cryptocurrency with his 7.7 million Twitter followers, and in a video with Vanity Fair this past October titled “Mark Cuban’s Guide to Getting Rich,” mentioned that “If you’re a true adventurer and you really want to throw the Hail Mary, you might take 10 percent [of your savings] and put it in Bitcoin or Ethereum — But, if you do that, you’ve got to pretend you’ve already lost your money.”

Cuban is now a backer of firms such as crypto-asset investment fund 1confirmation, and Unikrn, an e-sports company within the “Shark Tank” VC’s portfolio, recently held an initial coin offering that ultimately raised $31 million.

In a follow-up comment to CoinDesk, Cuban confirmed the news and said that the team would take both bitcoin and ether – as well as “possibly some other currencies.”

He explained:

“We will be adding a crypto payment ability for next season. We will accept BTC, Eth, possibly some other currencies. [That’s] to be determined.”

Cuban has overlapped with the FCFL in the past. In 2017, our founders pitched the idea of fan-controlled football to Dragon’s Den, the Canadian version of Shark Tank; and in a 2016 feature by the Daily Dot, Cuban was asked about the early incarnation of fan-controlled football when the Screaming Eagles were in early development for the Indoor Football League:

The sports world, like many industries, has been engrossed in the rise of cryptocurrency over the past year. Richard Sherman waxed poetic about his interest in Bitcoin in an interview with the Ringer in December, and Darren McFadden made headlines earlier this year when news surfaced that he had been defrauded out of nearly a quarter billion dollars-worth of cryptocurrency by a financial advisor.

While the Mavericks appear to be the only major American sports organization to accept cryptocurrency as a reality of their current operations, others in the global sports world have made this entry already. On Dec. 27, Bitcoin Suisse, a Swiss cryptocurrency broker, took over the Danish traditional bank Saxo Privatbank as the main sponsor of the hockey team Rungsted Seier Capital (DK). As part of the three-year deal, Rungsted Arena will be renamed to Bitcoin Arena, and  Rungsted Seier star athlete Nikolaj Rosenthal, the son of one of the team’s owners, Finn Rosenthal, will switch from the traditional salary payments in Danish Kroner to being paid exclusively in Bitcoin, which marks the first time a pro athlete has gone all-in on cryptocurrency for their salary.

It turns out that the Mavericks aren’t even the first NBA team to accept crypto, despite the hype garnered by Cuban. Way back in 2014, when Bitcoin’s market cap was just $11 Billion, the Sacramento Kings announced that they would accept cryptocurrency for tickets and merchandise (although this is no longer active).

While the sports world continues to open up toward the potential power of cryptocurrency, it is yet to fully embrace the opportunities presented by blockchain technology and its capacity for real-time transparency.

That is, until the FAN Token. With the FAN Token, sports fans will finally be able to leverage the power of blockchain to both manage their professional sports experience and actually be rewarded for their energy. Fans will actively control their favorite team, acting as a decentralized front office and collaborating on in-game strategy by managing personnel and, with the FAN Token’s first application in the Fan Controlled Football League, calling plays during games. The FAN Token represents the first instance of the true utility of blockchain within the sports world.

As we move toward a new era of digital sports and cryptocurrency continues to permeate the mainstream, it will be interesting to see how other organizations adopt blockchain and Bitcoin into their organizations. One thing is for sure: only one sports league is utilizing the blockchain as a mechanism for full league management…

Power to the FANS!

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