Sports NFTs have had a wild ride the last few years, starting with the NBA Top Shot video clip craze and peaking with Rob Gronkowski’s digital playing card collection which sold for $1.2 million.

These NFT (Non-Fungible Token) digital cards allow fans to own one-of-a-kind creations depicting their favorite players in a way that a physical card can’t replicate.

Here’s a primer on why every NCAA athlete should consider creating an NFT playing card, and how to do it.

Why you should create an NFT player card

Brand awareness

A simple Google search for “Athlete NFT” reveals almost 4-million results, with articles dedicated to the explosion of the trend among student-athletes and naming those who have created their own cards.

Media coverage is a big part of building your brand, and with so many mega-athletes getting into NFTs, having your name mentioned in the same breath is invaluable.

Profit

The point of creating NFT cards is to sell them, and with the right combination of design and market timing, the payoff can be substantial.

The market for NFTs is still evolving but athletes from many sports have cashed in with high-six figure amounts. Collectors view NFTs as the new rookie card.

Increasing values

The value of any collectible is influenced by age and rarity. By creating an NFT card now, you’re essentially creating your rookie card, the first collectible of you.

As your athletic career progresses, the card will only increase in value for people who buy it now, because it was created before you became a superstar in your sport. 

This creates value and urgency for current buyers, potentially driving up the price.

It might be your way to appear in video games

College sports video games used to be a thing, and there’s a good chance they will be coming back in the NIL era. 

Your NFT Here inside of video game

It’s very possible that NFT cards might be the way that game developers and publishers get around the prohibition on group licensing.

By paying for your NFT, developers could have the legal right to use it in a game, potentially solving the licensing issue. 

How To make an NFT player card

Find an artist

NFTs are works of art, so the first step to having one created for you is to find an artist to make it. 

You don’t need to go with an artist who is already creating NFTs, though it may help you learn what style appeals to you and get ideas on what yours could look like.

Here’s are just a few of the artists currently creating NFTs:

  • Black Madre: Creator of NFTs for Rob Gronkowski as well as Dreamfield co-founders McKenzie Milton and D’Eriq King
  • BossLogic: Creator of Lionel NFT, art for Marvel and The Rock
  • CryptoStrikers: Creators of a line of soccer NFT player cards
  • Lauren Nipper: Creator of NFT cards for multiple female athletes

If you are working with a NIL platform like Dreamfield, you can also reach out to them to ask for referrals.

Get price quotes and design samples

Once you have your shortlist of 3-5 artists, it’s time to ask each one for price quotes and samples of their work. 

Some artists may be well known for a particular style, while others may be open to more input from you on the design and look of the card.

Negotiating the price of the card is the next step, a process you may go through with multiple artists if you like more than one equally.

Blk Madre NFT Website
Image from Blk Madre

Each artist is likely to want something slightly different in the deal, whether it be payment completely up-front or to get paid as a percentage of proceeds from the NFT.

Negotiating skills are extremely important in this step, so this is a great overview of the skills needed to be successful

Working Out the Details

When you decide which artist to go with, it’s time to work out the details of the contract. There absolutely must be a contract, and there’s a lot that needs to go into it.

The contract should state exactly what work needs to be done, from the first sketch to revisions to the final card. 

Any contract dealing with the creation of an NFT playing card should specify the following:

  1. Exactly what items will be delivered to you as the client, and a timeframe as to when you will receive them should be attached to each item.
  2. Who will own the rights to both the design and the NFT (the final created digital image) both during the process and for the time between when you accept the final product and when the NFT is sold.
  3. A payment schedule in the contract, stating when the artist will receive payments for their work. This may include an up-front deposit and whether it will be refundable or not.
  4. A clause that you reserve the right to ask for as many rounds of revisions as are required to ensure you are happy with the final product.
  5. If/when any payment is required after the sale of the NFT, or if any gratuity is expected. 

The more detail you put in this section, the more security both parties have that money owed will be paid, no more and no less.

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Making the NFT

You’ll work with the artist on details like if the card should be animated or if there will be designs on the front and back, and what information to include on the card.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and make sure the card is exactly what you want. It’s easy to be intimidated, but remember you are the client and you are paying for the product.

This stage is the perfect time to consider adding things to go along with the card, which will add value and entice buyers during the bidding process.

Many athletes are adding experiences in the package along with the NFT. Gronk added VIP access to attend one of his games with a card in his NFT collection.

Rob Gronkowski Website for his NFT
Image from GronkNFT

Iowa basketball star Luka Garza created an NFT and added to it the chance to meet him and participate in several activities with him, as well as lifetime passes to his basketball camps. 

Fans and collectors buy NFTs to have a piece of their favorite athletes, so adding experiences like these can really push your NFT into the must-buy category. 

Selling the NFT

Once the NFT is done and ready to show off to the public, it’s time to get it on the market and make some money. 

A full explanation of the entire process is beyond the scope of this piece, but there are excellent resources on the internet, including this one, that captures the entire process. 

That said, here are the basic steps to follow in selling your NFT.

  1. Choose a platform on which to create a cryptocurrency wallet, which is how you pay for the various fees involved.
  2. Choose a platform for selling your NFT. This is where the auction for your card will take place, with the most well-known sites being
  3. “Mint”, or create, the NFT from the card design the artist made, by uploading it to the auction site you chose.
  4. Write the description of the NFT. This is where you include any extras that the buyer gets when they purchase it (like the experiences Gronk included as mentioned earlier).
  5. Decide what you want the beginning sell price to be. Looking at similar listings to yours is a good way to find the right starting price.
  6. Pay the listing fees. Each site requires various fees to be paid, some are set up-front and some are contingent on the selling price.

After that is all done, you can sit back and wait for the sale. Use your social media channels to spread the word about your card, and work with the artist to cross-promote with them as well. 

To recap

  • College athletes have several reasons to create their own NFT card, including growing your brand and profiting from the sale of your card.
  • Creating your NFT is a process that includes finding an artist and negotiating the contract that spells out exactly what you will get, what you will pay, and more.
  • Selling the NFT involves finding platforms for hosting your crypto wallet and for auctioning off the NFT itself
  • You can maximize your profit from the sale by adding experiences or other merchandise to include with the sale of the card to entice buyers to pay more.

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