As many college athletes know all too well, funding for more niche sports like - for example - luge is often lacking, and securing more often requires hours of fundraising by the team's boosters.
Which is why, ahead of the Winter Games in PyeongChang, some teams started getting creative. For instance, fundraisers for the US luge team have started accepting donations in bitcoin. Indeed, the team has raised several thousand dollars worth of bitcoin.
The team is hoping crypto donations will eventually comprise a substantial portion of its funding, according to Bloomberg.
"Both know all about speed, crashes, risk management, and holding on. Which is maybe why the US Luge Team and Bitcoin are made for each other," the team wrote on its website, which features images of athletes lying on top of a flat sled speeding down a curvy ice track. "Funds historically have been scarce, but the sport of luge has always been one to reward innovation and technology."
Ty Danco, a former 1980 luge Olympian and now an angel investor, pushed the idea for accepting bitcoin. He eventually became the first to make a donation to the team in crypto.
"There’s no doubt in my mind that the luge team needs a whole lot more money," Danco said.
USA Luge started accepting cryptocurrency donations in December in the run-up to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. As of Feb. 9, the day of the opening ceremony, the team had collected 0.673 Bitcoins, which at the time was worth about $5,400. As of Feb. 20, the value of the Bitcoin donations had risen to about $7,300.
The donations are not only tax deductible, but "from a tax point of view, donating bitcoin to USA Luge gives donors the benefits of not paying taxes on any appreciated Bitcoin" - which could be a huge incentive for potential donors who've been long-term holders.
The team received an influx of coins after Chris Mazdzer won silver on Feb. 11, the first-ever US Olympic medal in men’s singles luge. Within hours, three Bitcoin donations worth about $25 as of Feb. 20, came in. The donations haven't been as promising as the team has hoped, but the team isn't ready to give up on bitcoin yet.
"It’s just going to sit there and do nothing for at least three years. You know this is a long term bet on the viability of Bitcoin," Danco said.