Maccabi and Sighteer use NFTs from sports history to build community across the metaverse


On a recent morning, Eran Reshef was visiting an archive that will be on display at the upcoming opening Maccabi Museum on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. As he sifted through the hundreds of medals, trophies, badges, flags, photos, films and memoirs from more than a century of athletic competition, the Israeli entrepreneur kept thinking about how to move the past and the present to the future. Inspired by his observation of artifacts and wanting to find ways for technology to connect younger generations of people on social media and in the metaverse, “Project Max” was born.

Project Max is an initiative that uses non-fungible tokens to reach the public. NFTs are officially licensed digital memorabilia generated from Maccabi’s physical archives. But they do more than serve as a latest attempt by an established organization to capture the recent popularity of NFTs among collectors, investors, and speculators. Rather, they aim to bring people together through meaningful messages about sport and society.

The project is a global outreach effort focused on promoting inspirational stories that connect with people through social media and the metaverse. He uses Maccabi’s hoard of sports memorabilia as the basis for NFTs that elevate the message.

Maccabi is recognizable to many sports fans by its association with the major professional league teams in Israel that compete on international stages. Teams bearing the name play regularly in men’s UEFA Champions League football competitions, and men’s basketball teams have won EuroLeague championships. And, for the past ninety years, the name has been known through male and female athletes competing in the quadrennial Maccabees Games; the twenty-first edition of the Games were held last monthwith approximately 10,000 athletes from over 60 nations competing in 3,000 events in 42 sports at venues in 18 cities across Israel.

Maccabi organizations have been playing an important role in their communities around the world since the late 19e Century. The movement has its roots in a call from Franco-Hungarian doctor and author Max Nordau for a sporting, physical and spiritual discipline that could revive a nation of the Jewish people. Today, the network of 450,000 members in 450 clubs in 80 countries is organized under the umbrella of the Maccabi World Union. In recent years, however, there has been a realization among its leaders that young people are increasingly disengaging and moving away from their heritage and identity. At the same time, anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred and intolerance are raging, especially online.

Increasing levels of disengagement among members of a community and increasing levels of hate speech online are often treated as separate challenges. But Reshef, the serial entrepreneur, sees them as interconnected. The same goes for Amir Gissin, director of the Maccabi World Union. Discussing this point after Reshef’s visit to the Maccabi Museum made them feel like they were approaching things from a new angle. This sensibility, along with the inspiration of Nordau’s name and vision, led to the development of Project Max and its NFTs.

One of the NFTs, for example, relies on a photo of athletes traveling to the first Maccabiah Games in 1932 as an opening to tell the story of a journey that ended up saving many of their lives because of what he did to get them to escape the growing Nazi threat across Europe. A trophy of Maccabi clubs such as HaKoach Vienna, winners of the Austrian national football championship in the 1920s, is a way to share stories ranging from pre-war football and cafe culture to the wrestling team of the club acting as security guards for teams in other sports to players emigrating and forming large teams outside Europe to the liquidation of the club by the Nazis and the death of many members during the Holocaust. A pin or medal from clubs such as Bar Kochva Berlin, HaGibbor Prague, Maccabi Warsaw, Maccabi Bulgaria or Maccabi Syria and Lebanon provides access to stories about the growth and evolution of these communities over time.

Even so, NFTs might lean more toward novelty than utility without the technology Reshef had in mind when he visited the Maccabi Archives.

Reshef, along with startup veterans Roni Reshef and Asher Polani, is an Israel-based startup co-founder. Tourist. The company, a pioneer in social marketing, has developed an artificial intelligence platform that can reach specific audiences with related messages at scale. According to Reshef, Sighteer technology could be used to build the bridges that get Maccabi’s stories to the right audiences on social media and in the metaverse.

The Sighteer AI does not engage in public relations, media messaging or marketing. What it does, as Polani explains, is uncover the identities and relationships that shape a community, and then help increase the overall impact of the community. With Sighteer AI, an NFT is much more than a tradable token, it’s the key to running an effective and efficient community in the Web 3.0 world.

This is why Project Max, by design, weaves together three pillars that reflect and refract the power of sport in society. One concerns the values ​​inherent in sport: victory and defeat, competition, determination, perseverance, individual and team work, etc. Another is the role that sport and its values ​​play in driving social movements. A third is the community of people from all generations and all places in the world who come together around sport.

In this way, Project Max is an example of something more than minting and selling digital versions of historical artifacts housed in museum display cases. And this is more than just the latest example of an organization using NFTs as a way to engage the public. Rather, it shows a new way of thinking about using the power of sport to inspire people to identify more closely with their communities.


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