Call for Papers | “An Imaged Wonderland or a Near Reality: Web 3.0, Metaverse, NFTs, and Sport Business”, Special Issue of International Journal of Sport Marketing and Sponsorship | Call ends March 31, 2023

Guest Editors
    • Dr. Yiran Su, University of Massachusetts Amherst (
    • Dr. Bo Li, Miami University (OH) (
    • Dr. Olan Scott, Brock University, Canada (
    • Dr. Jerred Junqi Wang, Miami University (OH) (
    • Dr. Ted Hayduk III, Meta Platforms, Inc. (

Motivation and Aim of the Special Issue

The new wave of digital technologies – crypto, blockchain, decentralized finance, semantic web, NFTs, the enhanced versions of virtual reality, and augmented reality – has been proclaimed as the next big trend in business management (Rudman & Bruwer, 2016). Collectively, these technologies and others like them comprise the framework for ‘Web 3.0’: the third major iteration of the internet that is decentralized is decentralized for greater security and customization. 

The business of sports and entertainment must coevolve with the internet as we progress from Web 1.0’s static informational properties to Web 2.0’s interactive experience to the next era, billed as an immersive, three-dimensional space where consumers and brands can forge deep connections and engage in shared experiences. As early as 2014, the NBA Sacramento Kings became the first major professional sports franchise to accept Bitcoins for ticket and merchandise sales (Rolfe & Dittmore, 2015). Most recently, The MLB Atlanta Braves opened Digital Truist Park- the digital version of their home- in the metaverse, welcoming all avatar types (Hernandez, 2022). In a related vein, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have become increasingly popular among sport teams when it comes to ticketing real-world events or in virtual space, as well as creating additional revenue streams and opportunities through NFT merchandise through NFT wearables, which avatars can wear in the metaverse (Baker et al., 2022). 

Driven by blockchain technology, the core concept of Web 3.0 centered around authentication and ownership. The former refers to the transactions that are transparent and traceable irreversibility inscribed on the blockchain; in the latter case, the builders, operators, and users of a platform own the piece of the creation (Ragnedda & Destefanis, 2019). This new technology coincided with the rise of sport brands acquiring ownership over their own content under influencer culture and policy changes, such as NIL legislation and the legalization of sports gambling in North America, fueling the adoption of technology that enhances sports branding autonomy and creativity. Furthermore, esports, virtual sports, and online gaming provide a natural arena for experimenting and deploying Web 3.0 technologies, giving rise to virtual advertising and sensory marketing in sport marketing and sponsorship.

The hype surrounding Web 3.0, however, also comes with challenges across all aspects of sport industry including but not limited to product design, technology deployment, business ethics, and data management. Aside from current progress in hardware and infrastructure of Web 3.0 technologies, it is also a question of how far we can realize the promise of fully immersive experiences within the metaverse. In addition, sport customers have not yet managed to become a believer in the new fan engagement strategies in this space, as evidenced by Liverpool’s NFT launch that sold only 5% in a week (Salt, 2022). Further, the integration and management of the new fan engagement techniques have also had their challenges. For example, Liverpool fans complained about losing money from their NFT purchase, with “no further communication” from the club (Lusby, 2022). The privacy and ethics concerns surface as well, such as whether the metaverse will become the new frontier of surveillance capitalism, and whether the virtual space will equalize diversity issues or perpetuate them. With Web 3.0 blurring the physical and digital worlds, how sport organizations could fully embrace new technologies is a challenging task. 

With the advent of emerging Web 3.0, researchers now have the opportunity to (re) conceptualize, (re) examine, and (re) reconfigure existing and new constructs, theories, propositions, and models, as well as the way sports businesses are managed and operated. It also allows us to reflect on past ontologies, terminologies, assumptions, and research results as we move forward. In light of this, this special issue seeks to publish innovative research that addresses sport business challenges and opportunities in the context of Web 3.0.

Topics of interest in the special issue include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Web 3.0 technologies in sport product design
    • The adoption and application of blockchain and cryptocurrency in sport business
    • Data management, analytics, and software engineering in sport business 
    • Sport marketing strategies in virtual spaces and Metaverse 
    • Algorithmic culture and sport brand management  
    • AR, VR, and MR technologies in sport business
    • Fitness culture and virtual sports
    • NFTs, sport branding, and fan engagement 
    • Diversity and inclusion in Metaverse
    • E-sport, sport gambling and Metaverse 
    • Digitalization of sport business in Web 3.0
    • Sport globalization and localization in Web 3.0
    • Legal and ethical challenges in Web 3.0
    • Changes in sport brand communication in Web 3.0
    • Challenges of sport governance in Web 3.0
    • Sport consumer wellbeing in Web 3.0

The special issue is open to all methodological approaches, including conceptual papers, experimental studies, qualitative research, and empirical modeling. Research should draw on rigorous methodology to address the substantive topic(s). We encourage multidisciplinary research at the intersection of sport business with behavioral sciences, computer science, information systems, psychology, sociology, and other related disciplines. 

Submission Information

Interested authors should submit an abstract of at least 500 words but not exceed 1000 words in the main body of the abstract, excluding references, figures, and tables, a list of authors and affiliations, and a short biography for each author (no more than 100 words). This information should be submitted to by November 30, 2022. The guest editors will review all submitted abstracts and invite potential authors to submit their manuscripts to the special issue for publication.

The deadline for full manuscript submission is March 31, 2023. Full manuscripts will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis.

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title An Imaged Wonderland or a Near Reality: Web 3.0, Metaverse, NFTs, and Sport Business at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”.

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.


    • Abstract Submission Deadline: November 30, 2022
    • Full Paper Submission Deadline: March 31, 2023 


Baker, B., Pizzo, A., & Su, Y. (2022). Non-Fungible Tokens: A Research Primer and Implications for Sport Management. Sports Innovation Journal3, 1-15.
Hernandez, K. (2022, March, 22). Atlanta Braves embrace the metaverse with creation of digital Truist Park. Retrieved from
Lusby, J. (2022, June 28). Fans losing money from Liverpool’s NFT Sale. This Is Anfield. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from
Ragnedda, M., & Destefanis, G. (2019). Blockchain and Web 3.0. London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.
Rolfe, D., & Dittmore, S. (2015). A Bit of Strategic Innovation?: Bitcoin for Sports Ticket Sales. Case Studies in Sport Management4(1), 132-137.
Rudman, R., & Bruwer, R. (2016). Defining Web 3.0: opportunities and challenges. The Electronic Library.
Salt, O. (2022, April 4) Liverpool’s NFT range flops with 10,000 sold out of 171,000. Retrieved August 26, 2022, from…

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