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Some NFL players are collecting their salaries in bitcoin.

A moment ago, the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals took the field at SoFi Stadium for the NFL's Super Bowl 2022. The game is the sporting event of the year in the United States, but its impact goes far beyond soccer. The Super Bowl is synonymous with spectacle and high revenues, mainly from the extensive advertising investment incurred by companies to be seen worldwide.

More than 100 million viewers in the United States alone gather around the television set every year. This audience comes at a price, which is very high and low. The average cost of a 30-second ad is around $6.5 million, up to $1 million from last year. We are used to seeing big tech companies and FMCG products every year, but this Sunday, there will be new guests: cryptocurrency platforms.

The link between sports and crypto-assets is not new. For example, last year, the court of the Miami Heat basketball team was renamed FTX Arena when it incorporated the sponsorship of the cryptocurrency exchange platform with the same name. Likewise, the former Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers, is now called Arena since the cryptocurrency company bought the naming rights to the arena 20 years.

It isn't straightforward to monetize the advertising spots of this event in the short term. In addition to the millions of dollars demanded for screen time, many brands record ads specifically for the occasion, so the cost is even higher. Companies that advertise in the Super Bowl acquire prestige because it implies paying the million's worth, which always gives confidence.

Blockchain and NFTs already appear as hot topics in the latest sports sponsorship barometers. One example is the fan tokens that many La Liga teams have developed to finance themselves and offer exclusive experiences to their fans. This is also the case with the NFTs generated by the competitions themselves, such as the NBA, with the best plays that emulate traditional stickers.

Another door that has opened is paying the salaries of elite athletes with cryptocurrencies. In December, Russell Okung, a player for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL, became the first player to collect half of his annual salary, $13 million, in bitcoin.

Cryptocurrencies are an extremely volatile market where the situation can change radically from one day to the next, generating an addiction similar to gambling or betting.

"When something works or feels good, we release dopamine, which generates a reward circuit that makes you want to repeat the action," says Laura Baliña, a health psychologist. But neither with cryptocurrencies nor with gambling is always positive, which generates an even more substantial effect. "It is an intermittent reinforcement, the one that produces the most hooking and causes the continuous repetition of this behavior," the psychologist explains.

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