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Ready, Set, Block: Will Blockchain Also Transform the Sports Industry?

From finance to logistics to energy management, new industries are embracing blockchain technology almost daily. Is the next industry on deck? Join us as Tickaroo’s CTO, Andreas Gerauer, guides us on his thought experiment: Blockchain Benefits: Decentralization and Democratization Blockchain technology is bringing a new refreshing wind to digitalization. Instead of requiring a central data base, multiple independent copies of data can exist now. Until recently, a centralized infrastructure, which was controlled by only a few people, was necessary for data validation. With the help of blockchain, the same data strands can be split up onto multiple computers around the world and contained within a single network. How this infrastructure is built up and how changes are carried out are determined by the rules that have been implemented within the software. No one can change these rules without the consent of the other network participants. This almost completely eliminates the possibility for database manipulation. Because of this, there is a huge potential for the democratization of the digital world and its connections to the real world. The finance industry is already actively grappling with the topics of bitcoin and blockchain. The sports industry could soon follow suit. Referee calls or roster nominations could soon become more fair than they’ve ever been before. Even the traditional association structures could crumble through blockchain technology- or none of these things could happen. Let’s have a little thought experiment: Roster Nominations 2.0 – The Decentralized National Coach Regardless if club or national team, management is always focused on bringing the best players together. What would it look like if the performance data of the athletes was collected, evaluated, and analyzed in a way that enables the fans to democratically determine the ideal roster? The fans would decide who would be on the field and maybe even which game tactic would be used. Even the national team coach would of course also be voted for democratically. Success and failure would then be based on collective responsibility and would be shared upon everyone’s shoulders. The Digital Field: Kickoff for the Referee-Bot and AI AI makes this all possible: fully automated tracking systems, video assistants and goal cameras are only the beginning. More technologies will follow. Even blockchain? Fouls, delays of game or offsides calls could be objectively determined via software analysis. With blockchain, these calls could be upheld without alteration. A solution in this category of technology would be a referee-bot, or a digital referee, that could analyse the movement of every player and would penalize offenses. Will the future hold a programmed ruling for tolerance infractions? When is a foul really a foul? When are offsides really offsides? When does a delay of game need to be punished? Questions and other fundamental deliberations could arise in the future because of the possibilities that blockchain provides. So Long Administrative Structures and Marketing: Is There a Future for Sports Associations? International, continental, national, and regional sports associations preside over all sporting activities and ensure the organization of competition. But are they even actually necessary? Technically no, because the scheduling and organization of games, the arranging details concerning relegation or promotion, the declaring of victors and losers could most definitely be automated. For clubs, having a decentralized entity at the helm, would be an advantage. Many smaller clubs of within regional associations are currently at the mercy of the established regulations and obligations of the overarching sports association. And these rules can be changed at any time! With the help of blockchain, the opportunity to purge the excessive league bureaucracy has great potential. Why is the association even still important: the division of wealth. But with blockchain, the marketing for smaller clubs could change radically in the future. For example, when dealing with the division of television rights, blockchain could help make it possible for all content to be available on one platform. If all relevant clubs were connected to the same system, it would enable the user to pay per game, per league or via a complete subscription package. It would be a single system with the same prices for all. A system like this would make every cash-strapped soccer fan in Germany happy. Yet Blockchain in the Sports Industry Remains a Digital Dream Blockchain technology promises to be the future especially in the finance industry, or even on the political scene. The digitalization and democratization of sports would however presumably pull at some traditional joints and thus come up against some resistance. At the association levels, especially integration of the technology, appears to be a very exciting possibility, but it’s important to remember the interests of the functionaries as well as the significant technical challenges associated with the blockchain. Cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, demonstrate that traditional institutions like banks are quickly questioned when they highlight alternative models. Even today it’s still difficult to bring bitcoins to the public sphere for everyday use. This is why the chance to make purchases using the currency at supermarkets or other like services, isn’t available. However, the latest hype has taken a small step in this direction. A currency is validated by the belief in its value. This belief has strengthened greatly over the last few months. Yet there is still a long way ahead for bitcoin and other blockchain usages. The decentralization and democratization of the sports industry with the help of blockchain remains for now a digital dream, however, it is a dream that could also offer big changes in the future.
Unsplash/Nathan Rogers

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