In this week’s episode of the Sports Medicine Weekly podcast, Dr. Brian Cole is joined by Steve Thayer from NextName, a platform designed to support athletes through the sale of digital collectibles called NFTs.
The NCAA’s new regulations concerning the monetization of college athletes’ name, image, and likeness (known as NIL) shook the collegiate sports world to the core. Athletes were finally able to profit from their hard work and dedication, allowing them to better fund their future endeavors as professionals. However, many of the NIL deals that have sprung out of the NCAA rule change have been cumbersome and time-consuming for athletes. Our guests today founded an innovative business dealing in digital NFTs, with the goal of addressing this problem.
Non-fungible tokens, better known as NFTs, are unique digital identifiers connected to the block chain that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided. NFTs exploded in popularity in January of 2021 alongside the latest cryptocurrency boom. Although they’ve been around since 2014, NFTs are currently gaining notoriety because they are becoming an increasingly popular way to buy and sell digital artwork. In 2021, the market for NFTs was worth a staggering $41 billion.
Non-fungible tokens can best be described as trading cards, each of which has a unique value that can increase or decrease based on market values. However, unlike a currency, each NFT is completely unique. Since they operate on a blockchain, they have a unique advantage to physical art in that they can code extra features into the terms of trade, such as perpetual royalties to the initial creator, and can more easily confirm authenticity, or previous ownership.
Today, I am joined by Steve and Ryan Thayer, co-founders of NextName. Steve is a 1988 graduate of the University of Illinois. He earned a degree in Economics and was also the 2018 Chicago Illini of the Year. His son Ryan is a 2021 graduate of The Gies College of Business at U of I. The duo sought to find a way to support collegiate athletes nationwide, both legally and fairly, so they founded NextName with the goal of fundamentally altering the NIL landscape by making profitability easy and effective for both athletes and fans through digital collectibles.
Following its initial launch of University of Illinois digital collectibles, NextName plans to expand its offering to include digital collectibles from other schools and universities across the country.
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