MIT Sports Summit & The Athlete Economy

The MIT Sports Summit was, as you would expect, all about PERFORMANCE.

I learned 2 fun facts… clean bathrooms are a key topic for spots venue priorities… and FiFA data analytics show that athletes play their best on Tuesdays.

4 Key Themes:

  • Overwhelming Data – New methods to get it, where to put it, how to analyze and use it
  • Automation – between humans and machines
  • Democratization of Accessibility – Getting everyone engaged (PeeWee to Pros)
  • The “Athlete Economy” is taking giant leaps with new Web3 technologies like NFTs building and monetizing Direct-To-Fan relationships.

That last one is the most inspiring because it can accommodate the other Themes... And new fan engagement business opportunities are available today.

Also remember that this is for all markets that should be treating their customers like sports fans!

Here are insights and comments about the “Athlete Economy” from Speaker Ben Shields, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management:

As Athletes build their own brands and become Media Companies, they build and monetize relationships directly with fans. This is in part because they've got a weekly, if not daily, platform to reach fans that's through their games. You combine that with whatever they can build with their social media followings and whatever they might build in the Metaverse. It's a very powerful platform. 

So, we as a community are going to need to enable this "Athlete Economy."

We're going to need creation tools for athletes to create better content to connect with their fans. We're going to need better content distribution tools for athletes not only to create that content easily, but also to reach their fans effectively, efficiently, and authentically.

Sponsors are going directly to athletes, not only the largest ones, but the ones with even smaller followers to reach real fans. Athletes are going to have their own merchandise deals.  Not just with the big brands, but also with their own brands. And this includes not only physical goods but also digital goods.

NFTs are being sold by athletes directly to fans. Athletes are developing gaming content where they build and monetize relationships directly with fans. D2C, Direct To Consumer is narrowing … A2F, Athlete To Fan is here.

This is all part of a broader disintermediation that's happening in the media space - we've gone from three television networks to cable to now direct to consumer. And the next evolution of this is athletes as their own media companies bringing all these different suppliers as a conduit to fans.

In this increasingly decentralized world (with fewer middlemen, gatekeepers, and brokers), athletes become even more powerful, and therefore they become an important navigator for all of these supply-side economics to drive demand with fans both on their own platforms, as well as third-party platforms.

NOTE: This is what NuArca Labs provides - secure, dynamic, and scalable NFT marketplace solutions for athletes, Teams, and Leagues (with the same functions for musicians, artists, and the entire Creator Economy). 

Let me know if you want to see our ROI Reports from deployments with Rugby League World Cup.

Ben Sums Up:

  1. There are great business opportunities for support services across the ecosystem of hybrid online/offline activities – consultants, Agencies, legal guidance, data privacy, and security services content monetization tools, marketing services, business intelligence, and ongoing educational resources as everything evolves with shifts from new technology and new customer expectations.
  2. Brand building is now not just a task for the pros, it's going to be for all ages. College deals are being tested. And every single high school is now starting to think about how they can build and monetize their brand, especially in light of new NIL - Name, Image, Likeness rules.
  3. Exciting shifts in sports and media where, yes, leagues and teams still have an important role to play, obviously. But if you're looking to grow sports, you're looking to monetize fan relationships. 
  4. Athletes are going to be the best conduit for that type of activity. And there are lots of opportunities here from an innovation standpoint as well as from a research standpoint to make that future a reality.  

Lots of opportunities to discuss!
Any time.


David Cutler
NuArca Labs - Partnerships

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MIT Sports Summit facilitates breakout sessions to "tackle" Sports Industry Issues...

Our idea was chosen as the "Hot Topic!"

Hero Ecosystem NFTs:

1) Heroes are everywhere
2) Encourage and support them
3) Have more heroes

Good, helpful citizens (including Athletes and all Talent, A
rtists, Creators) should have their own branded NFTs - for their overall brand and individual events, services, causes, etc.

Fans increase the value of these NFTs by participating with them... comment, vote, share, by, sell, trade, gift, etc.

Remember, NFTs are not the things. They are the unlimited programmable functions that make these things (assets, services items) more valuable.

Every transaction does not have to be monetary. People can be inspired to participate because they earn access to experiences. For example, spending time with the Talent In real life or on a zoom meeting.

Yes there are models where money is earned ... Revenue-sharing of related purchases, fees, advertising, sponsorship, etc

Be a Hero... Be a Hero Maker.

That's David talking again