Welcome to the Bitcoin Bowl: Alt. Currency to Sponsor NCAA Football

With the future of the NCAA being cast into greater doubt every day, mired as it is in an ethical scandal nearly implicit in a billion-dollar enterprise built on the backs of unpaid labor, a new development is, at once, a strike for alternative currency and a sign that the people who don’t pay attention to Bitcoin may very well have to start.

Starting this year, Bitcoin will be headlining its very own college bowl game. For those of you disinclined toward college football, a bowl game is the equivalent of a championship, featuring the two best teams in any given conference playing against each other. The Bitcoin Bowl, which will properly be known as the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl (for its location, in St. Petersberg, Florida), will run for at least three years, thanks to the sponsorship deal BitPay landed with the NCAA, per GigaOm.

This development marks a change in the legitimacy of Bitcoin, at least among sports fans, who tend to be less aware of things like alternative currencies than, say, the people who are hip to the financial marketplace. As a peer-to-peer digital currency, Bitcoin allows for financial transactions that are more independent of the fluctuations that affect government-backed purchasing increments, like dollars. That’s part of the reason that Bitcoins have taken, intellectually, with the kind of people who invest in minerals like gold and silver.

The Bitcoin Bowl will mark the first time that fans can purchase tickets to a bowl game with Bitcoins — they can also buy tickets using Ticketmaster, a popular ticket sales site that has faced heavy criticism over fees and price gouging from bands like Pearl Jam and consumers who find its additional fees excessive. It remains to be seen if the Ticketmaster tickets will be more affordable than paying with Bitcoins, which are currently valued at around $600, according to The Daily Mail.

The match, which is scheduled to take place on December 26, will feature one team from the American Athletic Conference and one from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The AAC, not to be confused with the ACC, is the continuation of the old Big East conference, which splintered in 2013 into the AAC and the new Big East, which does not have football in its currently sponsored lineup of sports. As of today, the best teams in the AAC’s football umbrella, historically, are South Florida, Tulsa, and UCF. Last year’s bowl game, which was held as the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, was won by East Carolina (from Conference USA), who defeated the Ohio University Bobcats (of the Mid-American Conference) 37-20.

While it seems unlikely that alternative currencies will become the de facto method of ticket buying for NCAA bowl events in the near future, the 2014 Bitcoin Bowl will provide an interesting testing ground for the presence of a secondary payment system that exists beyond a conventional option like Ticketmaster. If Bitcoin proves to be more affordable (relatively speaking — these seats aren’t cheap) option, a systematic shakeup could be in the near future.

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