Despite alarmist calls that bitcoin and the cryptocurrency markets are headed to the junkpile, one significant suiter has stepped up to the plate, literally: Major League Baseball. Just recently, the league announced a partnership with blockchain gaming company Lucid Sight to MLB Crypto Baseball.
And just what is MLB Crypto Baseball? According to Yahoo Finance senior writer Daniel Roberts, this is a sort of social-media network where buyers (through crypto transactions) can purchase digital “trinkets.” Roberts writes:
In MLB Crypto Baseball, users will pay in ether to buy digital avatars tied to specific moments in recent games. They can then sell the items, or in some cases, earn rewards and stickers. The game is a decentralized app, or “dApp.”
Undoubtedly, this news item will excite several bitcoin and cryptocurrency proponents. One of the points I’ve argued in the past is that bitcoin needs further development of the blockchain economy, that crypto is built to be more than just a platform to get rick quick.
I concede that MLB Crypto Baseball achieves a significant level of mainstream credibility. After all, one of the commonly-heard criticisms against crypto markets is that they’re whimsical, unproven and speculative affairs. They could be here today, and gone tomorrow. But when an organization like Major League Baseball puts its reputation on the line for the blockchain, perceptions change.
But the overriding sense I have is that MLB Crypto Baseball is just another distraction. Sure, it will attract eyeballs, but the actual product doesn’t really do anything for the development of the blockchain. People buying avatars in a dApp? The only difference here is the underlying transaction is conducted in crypto.
Big whoop. Of course, a viable cryptocurrency project doesn’t require the project itself to be related to bitcoin or the blockchain. But a sector-related project does need wide-ranging appeal to be successful. I just don’t see how a niche dApp project like MLB Crypto Baseball is beneficial longer-term.
Also, a bigger challenge is sports viewership; specifically, ratings for most professional sports league – including “out there” leagues like the WWE – are declining, in some cases sharply. Baseball is no different. Tune into almost any MLB game. If it isn’t a big-time rivalry like the Yankees-Red Sox, chances are, you’re going to see row upon row of empty seats.
The emerging generation doesn’t consume professional sports like prior generations. Case in point: the one outlier here is e-sports. That’s right, video games about professional sports are rapidly climbing the ranks. It’s not inconceivable that they’ll overtake real sports.
So while I’ll always encourage more bitcoin projects, MLB Crypto Baseball is somewhat anachronistic.