Sports, Big Data, and NFTs Collide in the Metaverse

The NBA playoffs were the main focus of sports fans this weekend. But some lucky ones also made it to Europe for another popular basketball tournament, the EuroLeague Final Four, which took place in the metaverse. Their avatars watched the game live from a virtual stadium in Belgrade.

Real Madrid (Spain), FC Barcelona (Spain), Anadolu Efes Istanbul (Turkiye), and Olympiacos Piraeus (Greece) were competing for the championship title this year.

The virtual experience, called EuroLeague Land, was created by Turkish Airlines in collaboration with Euroleague Basketball.   

The Final Four Metaverse allowed avatars the opportunity to dress up in their favorite team’s gear, chat with other fans, attend exclusive events, and meet up with players. There was also a VIP booth—just like in a real stadium.  

Euroleague Basketball CEO Jordi Bertomeu said that the Metaverse’s mission is to bring people together around one passion – basketball. 

“It’s of paramount importance that we celebrate with fans who come to Belgrade, and also with those who will follow the Final Four from home,” Bertomeu said.

The Final Four is one of many sports competitions emerging in the metaverse. But what has started to take place in the metaverse for athletes and fans is not just about fun times. 

Any Ivy-league-obsessed parent would gladly sell his kidney if it meant a guaranteed athletic scholarship for their child. However, as we all witnessed recently, some people aren’t above cheating to secure limited spots at top schools. If data is stored as NFTs, then this becomes impossible. Former dot-com multimillionaire Halsey Minor, who also happens to have five children, is a big supporter of this concept. 

Some new projects are already developing in this direction. For example, the newly launched Yassport allows marathon runners to store their awards as NFTs. The project automatically collects data on all marathons in the U.S. When runners join the platform they receive a digital medal. This gives competitive athletes a new tool for self-promotion in the metaverse.

The founders said 4,000 people are already using the platform, including 1,500 runners who signed up after the recent Boston Marathon. 

With an option to integrate NFTs and wearables, the applications for Big Data in the metaverse are endless. Athletes can receive insights, recommendations for improvement, offers from major brands, and more.   Most importantly, the metaverse can help professional athletes build their businesses however they see fit. 

For example, Amanda Nunes, the star of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), is leaving the Florida gym where she’s been training to open her own gym in the real world — and in the metaverse. 

This week, Nunes announced on Twitter that she signed a partnership with SportsIcon. One of the first sports-focused virtual worlds that allows for the NFT trading, interaction with iconic athletes, and stadium visits.

“You want to be in control of your stuff, you want to train the way you want. You want to be able to share with fans” Nunes said. “I can’t wait to put up all my posters in my own gym!”

Well done, girl. That’s the way to go. 

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