Non-Fungible Tokens

A Research Primer and Implications for Sport Management




NBA Top Shot, NFTs, blockchain, collectibles, innovation, technology, sports


Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have gained considerable media attention and sparked growing public interest. NFTs are unique units of data recorded on a permanent ledger or blockchain. NFTs are used to record ownership of both physical and digital goods. Prominent sport organizations have embraced NFTs for innovative growth opportunities such as generating revenue via novel digital products (e.g., digital collectibles). For example, the National Basketball Association (NBA) launched NBA Top Shot, an online marketplace to buy and sell digital sports highlights. Sport organizations are exploring future innovation opportunities where there is a need to reliably track and verify authenticity or ownership of digital or digitizable assets. This includes existing sport products (e.g., tickets) and novel fan engagement initiatives. To benefit from NFTs, sport managers need to reconceptualize how sport is marketed and managed in a digital domain. The purpose of this research primer is to acquaint readers with key concepts related to NFTs. Specifically, we provide an overview of NFTs, offer a review of the brief history of NFTs, conceptualize NFTs via parallels with collectibles, and address the speculative nature of the NFT market. We conclude by outlining innovative growth opportunities of NFTs for sport managers and future research directions for sport management scholars.

Author Biographies

Bradley Baker, Temple University

Bradley J. Baker, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Sport and Recreation Management at Temple University. His research interests include consumer behavior and digital sport management, primarily brand building and identity formation in mediated spaces including social media, esports, and other contexts at the intersection of technology and sport.

Anthony Pizzo, La Salle University

Anthony D. Pizzo, PhD, is an assistant professor of business in the Management and Leadership Department at La Salle University. His research interests include strategic management, sport management, digitalization, and esports.

Yiran Su, University of Georgia

Yiran Su, PhD, is an assistant professor of sport marketing in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia. She works in the areas of influencer marketing, consumer well-being, and cultural branding in sport business. Her recent research focuses on examining consumer-brand interactions in digital environments using computational social media and multi-media analytics.


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