Autograph, the NFT platform co-founded by NFL quarterback Tom Brady, announced Tuesday that it is partnering with fantasy sports website DraftKings and entertainment firm Lionsgate to offer sports and entertainment-themed digital collectibles.
The platform will officially launch its NFTs this summer.
Sports-related content will be sold exclusively on DraftKings Marketplace, which will be available to users with existing DraftKings account. Once launched, millions will be able to seamlessly buy, sell, and trade digital collectibles.
Entertainment-related content, meanwhile, will be available in Lionsgate, Autograph’s entertainment vertical. The first wave of content will focus on franchises including the Hunger Games, Rambo IV & V, Dirty Dancing, Blair Witch, Mad Men, John Wick, The Divergent Series, The Expendables, and The Twilight Saga.
Los Angeles-based Autograph is also launching exclusive deals with Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Derek Jeter, Naomi Osaka, and Tony Hawk who will all be joining the company’s advisory board.
NFTs are digital representations of any form of artwork tied to a blockchain, typically on ethereum. Each NFT has a signature that can be verified in the public ledger and cannot be duplicated or edited.
When people buy NFTs, they gain the rights to the unique token on the blockchain, not the artworks themselves. But the fact that the information on a blockchain is next to impossible to alter makes NFTs appealing.
“We are honored to partner with these powerful icons and marquee businesses, DraftKings and Lionsgate,” said Richard Rosenblatt, co-founder and co-chairman of Autograph. “As the nascent NFT market continues to develop, we are fortunate to enlist these leading partners with additional luminaries to be announced in the near future.”
Apart from Brady, other celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan and Katy Perry have launched their own tokens, as well as prominent figures including Twitter’s Jack Dorsey.
NFTs have soared in popularity this year. Sales volume of tokens reached $2.5 billion in the first half of 2021, according to analytics firm DappRadar.
Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open this week after saying she gets “huge waves of anxiety” when dealing with press. The 23-year-old tennis pro was fined $15,000 for skipping a post-match press conference, and then pulled out of the tournament altogether when she was threatened with expulsion.
“I get really nervous and find it stressful to always engage and give you the best answers I can,” Osaka, who is currently the number two female tennis player in the world, wrote on Instagram. “So here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences.”
Psychiatrist Dr. Leela R. Magavi, who has worked with many student and professional athletes, told Insider media attention can exacerbate insecurities in sports players, which can lead to “debilitating anxiety as athletes may feel pressured to look, speak or present a certain way.”
It can also increase the chance of developing, or worsen feelings of “imposter syndrome” – a psychological phenomenon where people doubt their skills and talents and constantly worry they will be exposed as a fraud.
“Many athletes ruminate about what they said during an interview or how they were portrayed in an article or television segment,” Magavi said. “They may replay portions of what they expressed and blame themselves for the content of their speech.”
Some athletes have told Magavi in therapy sessions they felt that one comment or statement they made could ruin their professional careers or personal lives, she said. This means some will agonize over questions they might be asked in interviews for hours, and prepare how they might respond if controversial topics are brought up.
“This anticipatory anxiety could adversely affect their processing speed and their performance during the match, game or tournament,” Magavi said. “This kind of pressure can cause demoralization and cause or exacerbate self-esteem concerns, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts.”
Osaka’s decision could be a turning point in what is expected from athletes
Ronald Stolberg, PhD, a licensed clinical and sports psychologist and professor at Alliant International University, told Insider Osaka’s situation may be a “watershed moment” for awareness around mental health issues in athletes.
“A young, female, international superstar being bullied by the four major events in her sport because of a mental health condition has awful optics for the tennis tour and sport in general,” he said. “This incident highlights the pressure placed on athletes to participate in press conferences right after competing in their sport.”
Interviewees in other areas of expertise have time to prepare, while tennis players have questions fired at them straight away when they are still full of adrenaline – running on a high of their success, or potentially beating themselves up for under-performing. It could be especially difficult for them if those questions focus on topics they would rather avoid, such as their dating life, finances, lawsuits, or political issues.
Psychotherapist Amy Morin, the editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind who specializes in mental strength, told Insider anxiety is most likely an evolutionary trait that has stuck with us from the early days of humanity, when we developed “fight or flight” in response to danger. It probably used to serve us well when we were faced with a predator, but the adrenaline response in modern-day life is sometimes disproportionate.
Morin said in if an athlete’s body is in a heightened state of awareness, and they’re distracted by looming worries about public speaking, it could be difficult for them to perform at their best.
Sometimes it takes just as much strength to give up on something than to force yourself to keep going
Athletes are masters of self-discipline, but this can feed into a misconception that nothing ever bothers them. Just because someone is an excellent sportsperson, doesn’t mean they will be equally skilled at delivering a talk in front of a crowd.
Morin said she is a big believer in people facing fears in life, but not when it costs them more than it’s worth. It’s about figuring out where your boundaries are and not stepping over that line if the costs are not worth it.
While a common mantra in sports is to never quit, Morin thinks we should actually give up on things far more often than we do. She said ego gets in the way sometimes and forces us to complete a task we set out to do, when it would serve us much better to throw in the towel.
“It takes courage to say to people, I’m not doing this anymore, and facing backlash from people who are going to say, ‘You’re a quitter, you gave up, you didn’t try hard enough,'” she said. “Sometimes it takes a lot more strength to quit something and then it does to keep going.”
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This weekend, there’s been more back-and-forth than tennis fans are used to. Naomi Osaka, the highest earning female athlete in the world, dropped out of the French Open yesterday.
The backstory: Osaka announced last week that she wouldn’t be doing any press during the tournament, arguing that press conferences were bad for her and other players’ mental health.
On Sunday, the head honchos of tennis fined her $15k for skipping a post-match news conference, and raised the possibility of suspending her from future Grand Slam tournaments for violating her “contractual media obligations.”
Other athletes said they respected Osaka’s initial decision to avoid the press, but pointed out that answering questions in front of a hot mic is just part of the job. Tennis legend Billie Jean King said that professional athletes have a responsibility to talk to the media.
Zoom out: In her withdrawal announcement yesterday, Osaka said she needed to take some time away from the court. She acknowledged that she has been struggling with depression since winning the 2018 US Open, when she became the center of attention at 20 years old after defeating Serena Williams.
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