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Bowling for (virtual) dollars: Bitcoin to sponsor college football game

Philip Michaels | June 19, 2014
The virtual currency is about to go big-time thanks to the Bitcoin Bowl, which will be held in St. Petersburg, Florida, this December.


To paraphrase Hank Williams, Jr., football fans: Are you ready for some Bitcoin?

Hopefully you will be by this December, when a pair of college football teams kicks things off at the Tropicana Dome in St. Petersburg, Fla., for the first-ever Bitcoin Bowl. The bowl game, which is operated by a subsidiary of the ESPN cable sports network, has lined up payment processor BitPay as the event's sponsor. In a blog post announcing the partnership, BitPlay says the sponsorship agreement for the bowl game--formally called the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl--runs through 2016.

"This will be a fantastic opportunity to raise bitcoin awareness to millions of new users," BitPay's Tony Gallippi writes in the blog post. And indeed, simply attaching the Bitcoin name to the December 26 football game figures to raise its profile among an audience of sports fans who might not otherwise have heard of the virtual currency that's still struggling to go mainstream. Then again, Royal Purple, R+L Carriers, and San Diego County Credit Union--all sponsors of bowl games last year--don't exactly command overwhelming mindshare.

Still, before you dismiss Bitcoin Bowl as a silly name for a sporting event, you'd have to concede it's no more comical a moniker than the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, which had been the name of St. Petersburg bowl game in recent years.

There's more to the Bitcoin Bowl than just a name change. The Wall Street Journal reports that you'll be able to buy tickets to the contest, pitting an Atlantic Coast Conference team against one from the American Athletic Conference, using Bitcoin (with the payment processed through BitPay, of course).

But why stop there with the tie-ins? Maybe the game itself could mimic Bitcoin's wild fluctuations by changing the amount of points a touchdown is worth at various stages of the contest. Or reach out to fellow virtual currency Dogecoin--assuming it's not too busy with sponsoring a Nascar driver--to help with a cool marketing slogan for the game. ("Such football. Much tackling. Wow.")

At least we'll know what kind of currency they'll use for the coin toss in the Bitcoin Bowl--assuming a hacker doesn't swipe it before kickoff, that is.


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