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NFTs: Digital Tokens of the Future

Baker Reding '21

Let’s start with the name: NFT. Non-fungible essentially means that it is unique and for the token part, well, it’s an online token supported by the blockchain of cryptocurrency Ethereum, keeping the record of the sale price, date of purchase, and the buyer/seller.  For example, you can trade equities in companies with other stocks on the New York Stock exchange, but you cannot trade NFTs with other Non-fungible tokens due to the unique nature of the typical non-fungible token.

NFTs can be anything ranging from an exclusive album from the Kings of Leon to a clip of Lebron James posterizing someone and most recently the “suh dude” vine from Nick Colletti. People can view the clips or pieces of art anywhere, but only the highest bidder holds the rights and the NFT to the piece.

We know that with the demand for anything, comes a price increase. The NFT market has boomed in the past year, rising to about $338 million from 41 million dollars in 2018. I would attribute this boom in market value to the increase of time at home during the pandemic as well as the desire to make a quick buck as millions of Americans lost money and their jobs as Covid-19 ravaged the world. It is interesting to note that in December 2020 alone, the trading volume of NFTs reached $8.2 million compared to $2.6 million a month before, in November. Behind the majority of the trades are the crypto “natives.” As NFTs grow more popular every day, the large crypto firms are beginning to understand the value of acquiring various tokens.

Perhaps one of the more interesting stories in the NFT market is that of Mike Winkelmann, more commonly known as Beeple. On March 11, 2021, he sold a collage of 5,000 pieces of digital art for a whopping $69.3 million. To put it in perspective, the next highest NFT to be sold closed at $7.6 million. The final bid price made his work more expensive than original works from Salvador Dalí and Frida Kahlo, placing Beeple into the top three richest living artists in the world. Instead of receiving an authentic canvas, the winning bidder receives an NFT to ensure the authenticity of the purchase as well as the entire collage. Although the collage belongs to the winning bidder, he or she may not sell individual pieces within the collage. Following the trend, it is now common for artists to create digital showrooms and portfolios for their work as NFTs increase in demand.

It is fair to say that things are always evolving. People will always collect and resell for profit and NFTs are simply the next step for high-level collectors, crypto-based firms, and the average Joe.

 

 

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Madness in March

Michael Bagley '21

As they say, anything can happen in March. Frankly, that is the only way to accurately describe the craziness and unpredictability of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, commonly referred to as March Madness. Every year, 64 of the best college basketball teams in the country compete on the national stage for a chance at taking the hardware back home to their campuses. It is one of the only times in sports where rankings seemingly don’t matter, as it really comes down to who is more hungry for the win. The 2021 tournament was no exception.

This year, there were more upsets in the tournament than in years past, with some notable surprises being Syracuse, Abilene Christian, Loyola-Chicago, Oregon and Oral Roberts. However, there was one team that defied all odds, handing out upset after upset like it was candy – the 11th seeded UCLA Bruins. The Bruins had one of the more impressive runs in the past few years – starting with a play-in game against Michigan State in the First Four Round and advancing all the way to the Final Four. UCLA was led by sophomore guard Johnny Juzang, who finished with 137 total points scored in the tournament, the second most points scored by a UCLA player in NCAA Tournament history, behind Los Angeles Laker legend Gail Goodrich.

Throughout the tournament, it wasn’t just Juzang on the floor producing for the Bruins. They also had outstanding performances from forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. and guard Tyger Campbell, as well as head coach Mick Cronin. The team left everything out on the floor every night they played and it showed as they shocked the world and made it to the Final Four, slotted up against the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

That Final Four game, between the Bulldogs and the Bruins, was a close, hard-fought, back and forth game that had to be pushed to overtime. With just seconds left in overtime, Johnny Juzang shot a floater, missed, got his own rebound, and put it back up to score and tie the Bulldogs at 90 to 90 with 3.2 seconds left. Bruins fans prepared for double overtime, but a freshman from Saint Paul, Minnesota had other plans. Jalen Suggs got the inbound pass, dribbled down to the logo, and threw up a shot that banked in as the buzzer sounded, sending Gonzaga to the Championship against Baylor.

But once again, in true March Madness fashion, the 31-0 Gonzaga Bulldogs fell to the Baylor Bears with a final score of 86 to 70, despite amazing efforts from Drew Timme, Corey Kispert, and Suggs. Many people collectively thought going into the tournament that Gonzaga was going to steamroll everyone they faced, but head coach Scott Drew and the Baylor Bears proved them wrong. As they say, anything can happen in March.