Five Texas high school football stars are featured in the “Varsity Chips” NFT collection debuting this week.
The astronomical sales of NFTs we witnessed in 2021? Well, they’ve continued right on into 2022, with the largest marketplace — OpenSea — generating $3.5 billion in sales in the first half of January alone.
Over the past year, during which non-fungible token sales totaled more than $20 billion, athletes across the professional and collegiate ranks have joined in the crypto collectibles craze as both subjects and consumers alike. But now, for the first time, high school athletes are monetizing their name, image, and likeness rights in NFT form.
Boardroom can exclusively announce that Texas high school sports content company VYPE Media has formed Varsity Chips, which will create the first-ever non-fungible tokens of high school athletes, starting with a roster of football stars in the Lone Star State.
Although Texas State Law prohibits high school athletes from earning name, image, and likeness compensation, Varsity Chips has pledged to set aside a portion of revenue for every athlete featured to collect once they complete their high school eligibility. Currently, only five states – Alaska, California, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York – allow high schoolers to engage in NIL partnerships prior to completion of their athletic eligibility or graduation.
Since Varsity Chips and VYPE Media own the rights to photography and video footage shot at past high school games, they do not need to sign partnership agreements with the featured athletes, thus abiding by Texas State Law.
This workaround of sorts could be a game-changer for high school athletes in states that do not currently allow NIL participation, especially in Texas in the wake of the Quinn Ewers saga over the last year.
College football fans will recall that Ewers, a former 5-star recruit and top quarterback prospect in the class of 2022, originally committed to the University of Texas, but reclassified to enroll at Ohio State a year early and capitalize on NIL opportunities — including a $1.4 million autograph deal. After a season in Columbus in which he didn’t throw a pass,Ewers transferred back home to Austin, where he will be eligible next season to play and continue to garner NIL opportunities.
“High school athletes represent everything that is good about competitive sports,” said Shane Hildreth, CEO of VYPE Media and Varsity Chips. “For most current college or professional athletes, they will tell you that playing high school sports was the most fun they’ve ever had and now fans will have the opportunity to commemorate and own those special moments.”
Kicking off their premiere collection on January 21, Varsity Chips will feature video highlights and images of star football recruits at all stages of their careers. The full roster includes:
- WR Dillon Bell of the Kinkaid School in Houston, Texas (committed to Georgia)
- QB Bishop Davenport of Spring HS in Spring, Texas (signed with Utah State)
- QB Mabrey Mettauer of The Woodlands HS in The Woodlands, Texas (class of 2024)
- LB Harold Perkins of Cy Park HS in Cypress, Texas (committed to Texas A&M)
- QB Conner Weigman of Bridgeland HS in Cypress, Texas(committed to Texas A&M)
“It’s an honor to be included in Varsity Chips’ first NFT drop,” saidMettauer who currently has 13 scholarship offers including Florida, LSU, Miami, and North Carolina. “To represent my team, school, and city in such a unique way while still in high school is really special. I think this is just the start for high school athletes around the country to be able to get into the NFT space and it’s exciting to get to be a part of this first drop.”
With the explosion of NBA Top Shot in 2021, highlight video NFTs of high school athletes – especially football players in Texas – have the potential to garner major consumer interest, especially if they go on to excel at the collegiate and professional levels.
“We anticipate that the demand for high school athlete NFTs will excite the current and future marketplace by bridging the gap between systemic NFT purchases and the avid sports fan,” added Hildreth.
Although Varsity Chips’ first NFT collection stars Texas high school football players, they plan to quickly expand into a variety of boys and girls sports in addition to other states.
Beyond the financial compensation to high school athletes once they complete their eligibility, Varsity Chips will provide educational resources regarding NIL overall and NFTs in particular, with a focus on cryptocurrencies and personal finance.
While college athletes have certainly leveraged new NIL rules to cash in over the past six months, high schoolers haven’t taken a huge leap in the space yet. 2023 quarterback prospect Jaden Rashada of Pittsburg High School in California recently became the first high school football player to sign an endorsement deal, partnering with the AIR (Athletes in Recruitment) recruiting app.
High school basketball players have been move active with NIL opportunities – for instance, Vertical Academy phenom Mikey Williams signing a multi-year deal with Puma – but the NFT space has been relatively untapped until now.
The athletes featured in Varsity Chips’ collection will have three different NFTs minted– Rare (blue, 40 total), UnCommon (red, 400 total) and Common (green, 2,000 total)– with each pack guaranteed to include one Common NFT of all five athletes and one of those athletes’ UnCommon NFTs.
Only 200 of the packs minted will include a Rare NFT.
Varsity Chips’ premiere collection drops Friday, Jan. 21. Visit https://www.varsitychips.io to learn more.