Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sports cards: A dying industry?

Is the sports card industry destroying itself or is it the economy? While I think the economy absolutely plays a role in the decline of interest in sports cards, I think the companies are once again digging themselves into a hole. Let’s remember back to the 1980’s and early 1990’s when massive amounts of cards were being produced; what did this do for the collectors? It left all of us with boxes and boxes of cards you can’t even give away. Remember the Gregg Jeffries 1989 Topps Future Stars card? I remember this card being the one everyone had to have along with the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie Card. Now you can’t give away the Jeffries and the Griffey can be had for between $15 and $20 on eBay.

I know you are wondering how I can compare today to those eventful years of the 80’s and 90’s; here is my reasoning. When the sports card industry started producing jersey/memorabilia/autograph cards, they were extremely rare. The first reference of an autograph card in a set I can find is 1990 Upper Deck. They included autographed cards from Reggie Jackson, randomly inserted. The release of these cards as far as I can find was 2,500 total. In the link provided it is suggested that this gave someone a 1 in 250 box chance of getting one of these cards. Today you often find claims of two autographs per box. If my math is correct, in that same 250 boxes of 1990 Upper Deck you opened and were able to get maybe one Reggie Jackson autograph; you would have 500 autographed cards today. To me this diminishes the significance of getting that autograph. It brings me to my original point; the card companies are doing it again, creating large amounts of cards thus lowering the value and thrill of getting these cards.

Several things in the recent past are starting to taint the memorabilia end of the card business. With the advent of social media things travel much quicker; including pictures posted by star athletes such as Mark Ingram, rookie running back for the New Orleans Saints. He tweeted a picture of him wearing what he said to be about 17 jerseys. These jerseys’s were then cut and made into “event” worn cards. Just recently a story has emerged about memorabilia dealers selling bogus game-used jerseys at auction and even selling them to sports card companies to be used in game-used jersey cards.

While the companies aren’t necessarily producing the cards in droves like before, there are definite questionable measures being taken in order to profit. This once again leaves the collector with the bill. By the time it reaches the consumers hand, the company has made their money while you have lost yours. Perhaps the companies will begin to realize the problems in their industry and once again revamp the process. I as a collector can only hope this is the case because I still think back to the thrill of being a kid and busting wax in search of my favorite players.

No comments:

Post a Comment