You’ve seen them. They scour trading forums like a vulture searching for carrion. They’ve instituted a fascist dictatorship over your favorite athlete on eBay. Yep, you guessed it, they’re player collectors.

I’ve often wondered what makes player collecting so appealing. As a team collector, I often feel the need to even out my cards if I feel that I have too many of one player and not enough of another. But, as I sat down and thought about it, I came up with a few reasons why there are so many player collectors out there.

The most obvious reason is because they greatly admire that particular player. But to admire them more than the team itself? Some sports fans might coin that kind of admiration as “man crush.” And what about the people who super-collect a player not on their favorite team? That’s borderline treason in the world of sports!

Then there’s the concept of potential. Some collectors may super-collect a player based solely on their potential; potential that, oftentimes, has yet to come to fruition, which makes their cards cheaper and the possible payoff bigger. This kind of player-collecting is understandable. The only thing that could possibly be more satisfying than seeing your prediction for a player come true is the amount of revenue that could follow. However, I still don’t think that this is the number one reason why people player-collect.

As a recovering player collector, I can vouch that the most thrilling part of super-collecting a player is “the chase.” For those of you who don’t know what I’m referring to, the chase is the journey to collect every single card of a player; the Paypal-bruising, forum-scouring, 500 ct. box-rummaging, eBay-surveilling journey that one inherits when they decide to become a player-collector. However, these are not the only downsides to player-collecting.

The amount of different products released in this day and age can cause some player-collectors to pull their hair out. Perhaps even more frustrating is the amount of parallels in some of these products that can make the chase almost as impossible as an episode of Sportscenter without mention of the New York Yankees or Brett Favre.

For example, the 2008 Topps Moments and Milestones baseball sets feature an incessant amount of parallels for each card. In this set, a card is circulated for every occurrence of the milestone in question; for instance, there is a card celebrating Aaron Hill’s 47 doubles in the 2007 season. This means that there will be a different card for his first double, his fourth double, and so on. This might not seem too bad, but when there is a base version, a black version, a blue version, and a red version highlighting every single one of Aaron’s 2007 season doubles, it gets a little outrageous. To make matters worse, there are also four one-of-one printing plates in the set. For those of you who don’t like to do math, I’ll do it for you: Aaron Hill has 192 different cards in Topps Moments and Milestones, including 51 one-of-ones. This lone set takes up nearly 37 percent of Aaron’s total cards in existence. Now, imagine what sets like this (and there are more than just this one) can do to the collector of an extremely popular or well-known player.

The ridiculous amount of parallels in today’s products is what I believe leads me to my final observation about player-collectors: in the end, they jump ship. I’ve seen countless threads on Sports Card Forum of former player-collectors selling off much of their collection, and sometimes even polls asking which player they should collect next (which is often a much less ambitious player than their original choice). So, while player collecting may seem like a fun challenge, I warn all of those considering that it is a wallet-draining, sleep-depriving, parallel-loathing descent into collecting madness.