With the NCAA’s new rules surrounding NIL, college athletes can now leverage their brand and release NFT projects that can help fund and accelerate their career

By Fernanda De La Torre

Over the past year, the NFT market has continued to grow and evolve drastically. From PFP NFTs, to membership NFTs, to NFTs representing home deeds, new innovative ways to implement digital assets continue to emerge along with new types of NFT creators.

Athletes are among the many groups who have started to get involved in the NFT world. College athletes in particular are recognizing that NFTs can be used to build their brands all while generating revenue streams that can help accelerate their careers. Thanks to new NCAA rules surrounding name, image, and likeness; athletes now have the financial control to get paid and capitalize on this billion-dollar trend.

Building a personal brand has always been a factor when getting the attention of big-name deals in the pro leagues. College athletes are already actively working on building their social media presence at the onset of their athletic careers to make themselves known.

With the rise of platforms like Instagram and TikTok, athletes are beginning to grow their fan base not just by their athleticism, but by showcasing their authentic personalities. At the same time, fans are embracing this authenticity, and seeking new ways to support and feel closer to athletes off the field.

Integrating a Web 3.0 strategy has the ability to bring fans closer than ever to their favorite athletes, enabling alumni and fans to own and collect meaningful digital collectibles from aspiring professional athletes at a momentous part of their athletic journeys.

NIL rights are also said to be giving greater earning power to female athletes who may be overlooked by traditional outlets during college peaks. Creating NFTs can take this one step further as it truly puts the power in the athlete’s hands, giving them a revenue stream they’re in full control of.

We can already see some athletes profiting from NFTs, for example, LSU athletes have made NFTs a popular revenue source. Student-athletes are actively making money off of images, video clips, and digitized cartoon graphics of themselves.¹ Not only does this help build up the athletes but it also gives fans an opportunity to invest in an athlete who may become the next Tom Brady.

Creating NFTs on Upstream

Upstream, the first regulated securities exchange to offer both NFT and securities trading, offers a secure one-stop-shop for athletes to seamlessly create and sell authenticated NFTs to a global fan-investor community.

Upstream, alongside our esteemed partners across sports, music and entertainment, are already speaking to athletes of all levels about leveraging their brand to enter Web 3.0 using digital collectible NFTS.

We work with athletes to integrate NFT strategies that derive NFTs from valuable owned assets or opportunities that we believe will make strong digital footprints.

NFT airdrops, for example, are a great way to kick off fan engagement and create a segue into premium NFTs that can be purchased to access sports demo reels, collect digital trading cards, or unlock physical merchandise.

We’ve also created the ultimate fan engagement NFT experience that doesn’t require any blockchain knowledge to participate for you or your fans. Upstream simplifies the fan user journey on its secure, eco-friendly platform. Fans can claim or purchase NFTs using PayPal, Credit or Debit Card, US dollars or digital currency in the form of USDC Stablecoin.

Upstream differentiators for athletes:

  • Upstream is the first regulated securities exchange to offer both NFT and securities trading to protect your brand and your fans in the NFT market.
  • Upstream features no upfront costsno contract or lock-in period for athletes, and no gas fees charged to users which enables athletes to offer thousands or millions of free, low-cost, and premium NFTs.
  • Athletes can integrate a royalty to their NFTs and continue to receive royalty payments throughout the NFTs’ lifecycles. Athletes may withdraw profits immediately after sale to fuel their career and enjoy continued fan engagement through trading.
  • Upstream is 100% carbon neutral with its own solar “field” for ETH mining used for our Ethereum layer-2 rollups.
  • Upstream simplifies the fan user journey on its secure, eco-friendly platform. Fans can claim or purchase NFTs using PayPalCredit or Debit Card, US dollars, or digital currency in the form of USDC Stablecoin.

Concluding thoughts

NFTs have the ability to create a continuous revenue stream that athletes can take advantage of, especially now that NCAA rules are putting financial control back into their hands. We believe that NFTs can assist athletes in funding new ventures and develop fan engagement plays that have the potential to yield extraordinary results.

Interested athletes can reach the team at hello@upstream.exchange.

Click to view our athlete one-pager.


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About Upstream

Upstream, a MERJ Exchange Market, is a fully regulated global stock exchange for digital securities. Powered by Horizon’s proprietary matching engine technology, the exchange enables investors to trade shares in IPOs, NFTs, U.S., and international dual-listed equities, and celebrity ventures directly from the app https://upstream.exchange/. Interested issuers can reach the team at hello@upstream.exchange.

About Horizon

Horizon is a fintech company that builds and powers global securities exchanges with an integrated suite of software for compliant issuance, management, and secondary trading of securities. Their in-house solutions combine Wall Street and Silicon Valley to power the next generation of securities offerings and trading in the U.S. and globally. Learn more at https://www.horizonfintex.com/.


Upstream is a MERJ Exchange market. MERJ Exchange is a licensed Securities Exchange, an affiliate of the World Federation of Exchanges, and a full member of ANNA. MERJ supports global issuers of traditional and digital securities through the entire asset life cycle from issuance to trading, clearing, settlement, and registry. It operates a fair and transparent marketplace in line with international best practices and principles of operations of financial markets. Upstream does not endorse or recommend any public or private securities bought or sold on its app. Upstream does not offer investment advice or recommendations of any kind. All brokerage services offered by Upstream are intended for self-directed clients who make their own investment decisions without aid or assistance from Upstream. All customers are subject to the rules and regulations of their jurisdiction. By accessing the site or app, you agreed to be bound by its terms of use and privacy policy. Company and security listings on Upstream are only suitable for investors who are familiar with and willing to accept the high risk associated with speculative investments, often in early and development stage companies. There can be no assurance the valuation of any particular company’s securities is accurate or in agreement with the market or industry comparative valuations. Investors must be able to afford market volatility and afford the loss of their investment. Companies listed on Upstream are subject to significant ongoing corporate obligations including, but not limited to disclosure, filings, and notification requirements, as well compliance with applicable quantitative and qualitative listing standards.

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