By: Josh Danza
A few years ago, after many years of procrastinating, I cleaned my leftover childhood belongings out of my grandparents' house. Most were stored in blue, plastic storage containers. I threw out almost everything but kept two boxes of items that I felt had sentimental meaning. In separating the "trash" and "keep" piles, I came across a binder full of old Pokémon cards in 3x3 plastic storage sleeves. I remember neatly organizing those cards as a kid, putting the holographic cards (my once "most-valued possessions") in the front few sleeves. I never played the actual Pokémon game with the cards, I was afraid that I would "ruin" the card by accidentally bending it or getting it wet. But they were fun to look at and show off to friends.
My mom also used to buy large cases of newly released baseball cards throughout the 90's in hopes of collecting every case since the year I was born. When I was around 9 years old I remember she presented me all of these unopened packs of cards, and I didn't really know what to do with them besides stack them in the back corner of my closet. I'm actually not entirely sure where they went, but I'm sure my mom has them somewhere. She also used to collect Beanie Babies. I had around 7-8 Beanie Babies that I played with, and the rest of them I tucked away in a plastic bin with a lid, "Ty tags" in-tact and protected with a plastic heart-shaped protector. My mom told me that they were going to be worth a lot of money one day, and it would be best to keep them in a safe spot. My mom's collection easily surpassed over 200 Beanie Babies. She had a book I used to look at that showed how rare each Beanie Baby was and how much they were projected to be worth in the future if kept in perfect condition.
I originally heard of NFTs a few months ago while listening to a sports podcast. The host of the show and his guests were discussing NBA Top Shot, a new and popular alternative to trading cards using NFTs. At first I couldn't wrap my mind around the concept and had to do my research.
*Opens Google search*
Top Shot allows fans to buy and "own" online short video clips of their favorite NBA players. There are a limited number of each video clip on Top Shot's platform, thus assigning more value to products in high demand. LeBron James' game-winner in the final seconds would surely be worth more than his uncontested layup from the 7th game of the season. On the Top Shot Marketplace, as of today, there are 10 clips valued at over $100,000.
But what is it that assigns hundreds of thousands of dollars of value to online video clips that you can view online for free? This is a real question that many people have, including myself. We assign value to whatever we deem important. If you own something of high significance to you and that significance is also recognized by someone else, it is deemed as valuable to that person.
NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. In economics, an item is fungible if it can be interchanged with another individual good or asset. For example, five $1 bills is fungible with a $5 bill. This is possible because the U.S. government has determined that five $1 bills are worth the same as a $5 bill. A non-fungible item is unique and cannot be replaced by something else. NFTs can be video clips, pictures, artwork, audio, or any type of digital file. You can show off your NFTs to your friends online and view/watch/experience them without depreciating their worth. NFTs can be used on a daily basis without an overprotective fear of water damage or a bent edge of the card that would make it worthless.
A technology called "blockchain" makes sure that each NFT is unique and authentic - just like a "certificate of authenticity" you would receive if you bought autographed sports memorabilia. Blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions that is duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems. Most NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain, a decentralized software platform used for its own cryptocurrency, ether.
How blockchain works:
NFTs are growing in popularity and there are many online marketplaces where you can buy and sell them. Here are a few popular options.
There are many NFT skeptics, but I believe I see their worth and potential. I think that NFTs could be the trading cards of the future. I could be wrong. It turns out my old cards are pretty valuable and worth more than I would've ever expected. My two young daughters love playing the Pokémon card memory-matching game I made up. It works just like any other memory card game where you flip two cards over, and if they are a match you pick up the cards and go again. At the end (their favorite part) they present their cards out in front of them and trade. Their most coveted cards are Clefairy and Eevee. The other day I traded each of my Clefairy's for 4 cards each! (No mercy). They couldn't care less about Mewtwo and Charizard, my once "most-prized" possessions.
My favorite rule - after a trade has been completed, each player must say, "good trade, good trade".