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NFL player Taylor Rapp is launching an NFT collection to fight anti-Asian hate. A chief investment officer breaks down why NFTs are 'psychological assets' that could surge when a large network of people assigns value to them.

Published by Business Insider on Fri, 02 Apr 2021

<p><img src="https://static1.businessinsider.com/image/6065daa3daf0f10018f99743-2221/Taylor Rapp 2.jpg" border="0" alt="Taylor Rapp 2" data-mce-source="David Bircham" data-mce-caption="Taylor Rapp is is an American football free safety for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>The red-hot market for non-fungible tokens is still heating upand Taylor Rapp, a free safety for the Los Angeles Rams, is the latest pro athlete to launch an NFT collection.</p><p>What's unique about Rapp's foray into the crypto-art world is that he plans to donate "a substantial amount" of the profits to the <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-aapi-community-fund">AAPI Community Fund</a> to help stop the <a href="https://www.insider.com/anti-asian-violence-racism-hate-crime-invisible-american-history">spike in anti-Asian hate</a> incidents across the country.</p><p>"Ever since COVID-19 over a year ago, it just seems like there's a new video every day around the country somewhere, some innocent old grandpas and grandmas getting attacked senselessly just for walking on the streets," Rapp, the only Chinese American NFL player, said in an interview.</p><p>The defensive back found his love for football at a young age, but growing up, he never had a role model who looked like him because of the lack of Asian Americans in the NFL.</p><p>"I told myself that when I do make it to college football and then eventually the NFL," he said, "I would be that figure, and I would be that role model for other Asian American kids to look up to."</p><p>Today, Rapp has filled that void in the NFL. After seeing fellow NFL colleagues Patrick Mahomes and Rob Gronkowski launch their NFT collections, he decided to leverage his platform and capitalize on the NFT boom to help the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.</p><p>For the past three weeks or so, he's worked with digital artists <a href="https://www.instagram.com/elenaprovik/'hl=en">Elena Provolovich</a>, <a href="https://ryandarwent.com/bio">Ryan Darwent</a>, and <a href="https://www.birchamsart.com/pages/about-us">David Bircham</a> to come up with six NFTs for his <a href="https://opensea.io/collection/taylor-rapp-year-of-the-ox-nft-collection">"Year of the Ox" collection</a>.</p><p>"The whole collection has so much meaning to me," Rapp said, adding that he was born in 1997, the Year of the Ox, and is launching his first NFTs in 2021, another Year of the Ox.</p><p>"Each of the six NFTs has Chinese Ox proverbs that my mom and I decided are my favorites," he added. "In the special edition, my grandpa actually hand-painted the graphic of an Ox and a Chinese proverb in the upper right-hand corner."</p><h2>Psychological assets</h2><p>Rapp's NFT launch comes at a time when <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-nfts-went-mainstream-cryptocurrency-blockchain-2021-3">digital assets</a> have continued to surge in value. About $213 million worth of NFTs traded through the Ethereum network in the past month alone, <a href="https://nonfungible.com/market/history">nonfungible.com</a> showed.</p><p>NFTs are essentially cryptographic claims of ownership that are recorded on the blockchain, which also backs Bitcoin, Ethereum, and some other cryptos. But unlike cryptocurrencies that can be exchanged one for one, NFTs are unique and not mutually interchangeable, or fungible, giving the creators or buyers exclusive ownership.</p><p>Skeptics have labeled NFTs as yet another sign of the crypto bubble, but it is "absolutely reasonable" to look at NFTs seriously, said <a href="https://www.etftrends.com/author/davenadig/">Dave Nadig</a>, the chief investment officer and director of research for ETF Trends and ETF Database.</p><p>Nadig, an ETF industry veteran who has researched NFTs, said that wealthy investors have long shelled out money for physical collectibles such as <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/nft-investing-fractional-art-platform-ceo-warns-of-pure-speculation-2021-3">precious art</a>, classic cars, and <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/collectable-ceo-breaks-down-risks-and-benefits-digital-collectibles-nfts-2021-3">sports trading cards</a>.</p><p>"Most of the time those things are collected not because of their investment value solely but because the person has a connection to them," Nadig said. "And if they happen to also make smart investment decisions by Shelby Cobras that go up in value, that's great."</p><p>In his view, NFTs are the same thing.</p><p>"They are psychological assets in that they are things that an individual assigns value to," he said. "If there's a large network effect of people who assign value to them, then there's the chance that those will go up in value."</p><h2>The intersection of sports and NFTs</h2><p>Over the past few months, investors have certainly assigned a fair amount of value to NFTs ranging from <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/beeple-response-to-nft-selling-for-69-million-reaction-video-2021-3">Beeple's digital artwork</a> "Everydays: The First 5000 Days" to <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/twitter-ceo-jack-dorsey-sell-first-tweet-nft-sunday-2021-3">Jack Dorsey's first tweet</a>, which were sold for $69 million and $2.9 million, respectively.</p><p>One of the areas most ripe for NFT-induced disruptions is sports. Collectors are spending millions of dollars every day on <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/nba-top-shot-virtual-highlights-for-sale-moments-blockchain-explained-2021-2">NBA Top Shot</a>, a blockchain-based platform that lets users trade virtual collectibles called "moments" that have raked in $207 million just in the past month, <a href="https://cryptoslam.io/">Crypto Slam</a> showed. (NBA Top Shots are not traded through the Ethereum network.)</p><p>"There's a pretty large network of NBA fans who might value owning the one-of-one moment for a game-winning three-pointer, and that is super rare and highlights a particular moment that was important to them," Nadig said. "That's not ridiculous. People buy game-winning footballs with signatures on them too. There's a huge market for that stuff."</p><p>For Rapp, the NFT craze in the sports world is here to stay.</p><p>"I think it will eventually take over sports trading cards," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised in three to five years if all professional athletes have their own NFT collections, and everyone in the NFL has their own NFT collection, and it really takes over the sports trading world as these digital assets continue to rise."</p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/nfts-could-surge-value-network-effect-taylor-rapp-nfl-collection-2021-4#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-symphony-seas-worlds-largest-cruise-ship-deals-with-waste-2020-3">How waste is dealt with on the world's largest cruise ship</a></p>
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