Two US collegiate American football players, Jack Coan of the University of Notre Dame and Blake Corum of the University of Michigan, have entered the NFT space. 

Launching the digital products on Tuesday 28 December via the Draftly Marketplace platform, the duo have made their NFTs available to prospective customers via debit card and credit card purchase as well as ‘other traditional payment methods’.

Draftly has partnered with Shopify in order to allow its users to pay via these payment methods, whilst all of the Corum and Coan NFTs will be minted on the Polygon protocol with the goal of minimising GAS fees in comparison to NFTs sold directly via Ethereum. 

Nick DeNuzzo, Draftly Co-Founder and CEO, remarked: “We’re proud to collaborate with Jack and Blake to commemorate their outstanding years and make them the first athletes at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan to release NFTs. 

“NFTs are a tremendous example of an opportunity for college athletes to capitalise on the NIL and engage with their fans.”

Purchasers of the NFTs will gain access to Draftly’s private college sports community and curated college sports events.

The development is further indicative of increased engagement between the sports space and digitised assets, including NFTs and ‘Fan Tokens’, which are becoming leveraged more and more as a means of driving revenue and improving fan engagement. and Sorare are two platforms which have been enjoying significant success via partnership with sports organisations, particularly in the football scene through agreements with clubs such as Arsenal and Leeds United – two of the more recent adopters of the technology as a fan engagement tool – a trend which began to skyrocket after AC Milan entered the field towards the beginning of this year. 

Meanwhile, some in the gambling sector have also begun to pay attention to burgeoning space, with US operator DraftKings notably launching its own NFT platform – the DraftKings Marketplace – earlier this year.

Like the Draftly Marketplace, DraftKings NFT offering has also partnered with the Etherum-based Polygon whilst forging links by launching products based on prominent athletes such as National Football League’s (NFL) Tom Brady and collaborating with the quarterback’s Autograph platform.

However, NFTs and Fan Tokens have faced some criticism, with some observers noting that tokenised assets often decline in value after significant sums of money are spent on them by consumers – BBC analysis estimated that over £262m ($350m) has so far been spent on such digital currencies.

Aforementioned Arsenal was also recently chastised by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after a promotion for and fan tokens on the Premier League club’s website was deemed as ‘misleading’.