By Darcy Ryan Brooke-Bisschop aka bb_bros

For the longest time very few people seemed to understand my obsession with the hobby of collecting sports cards. My wife-to-be thought it was just another of my many quirks, and friends and colleagues generally seemed bewildered by it. Comments along the lines of : ‘Why do you spend so much time and money on that stuff?’ or ‘I just don’t get how you can find little pieces of cardboard so interesting’ have not been uncommon throughout most of my life.

When faced with these comments and pressed to explain my fixation, I often struggled to identify exactly what makes collecting such a passion for me. For me, an explanation as simple as ‘it’s fun’ or ‘I just enjoy it’ never seemed to properly classify what made collecting so special to me.

Sure collecting is fun, and sure I enjoy doing it, but I never felt that those reasons could fully express why I collect. It always seemed as though they were only pieces of a larger answer, but I could not figure out precisely what that larger answer was.

Only a relatively short time ago did I truly come to realize what that ‘something’ was. It was while opening a box of packs during a stopover on a road trip I was on with my brother and dad that it hit me. The reason I enjoy collecting, and the reason it is fun for me, is because it has given me a lifelong connection with one of the most important people in my life: my father.

My parents separated when my brother and I were 2 and 3 years old respectively. For the remainder of our childhood, and the duration of our teenage years, we spent Monday to Friday with our mom, living over an hour away from our dad who we’d visit each weekend. Though this kind of situation can be very traumatic on kids, my brother and I were so young when it began that – to us – it just seemed normal. Thankfully, each of my parents strived to maintain this sense of normality by playing very active roles in our lives, and they did a great job of that if I may say so.

In an effort to ensure that he missed as little of our youth as possible, and despite the distance separating him from us, our dad stayed very closely involved with my brother and I wherever possible. He would coach our minor hockey teams every season, attend all of our school plays and track meets, and shuttle us back and forth between our mom’s house and his own every single weekend for nearly fifteen years. Shortly after his separation from our mother, he also introduced us to collecting sports cards; a hobby we’ve all enjoyed together well into our adult life.

Having grown up a fan of all of the major professional sports, as well being an inherent pack rat, my dad has always had a connection to collecting. It’s scary to think that my grandmother burned hundreds of cards that he had collected as a kid in the ‘50s because she thought that he may as well have just burned his money rather than ‘waste it’ on cards.

My dad introduced us to collecting just as the trading card boom was heading toward its peak. In general I have a poor memory, but I can clearly recollect sitting at our dad’s kitchen table and tearing into our first ever box of packs: the now much maligned 90-91 Pro Set Hockey. That was nearly twenty years ago now, but the memory is as clear as if it had just happened yesterday.

Since that day I’ve been hooked. For years the three of us would spend hours every weekend working on our collection. We’d go to card shows and stores together, searching for bargains as we tried to find cards we needed. We’d buy boxes and split the packs into three piles so we could each open them and compare the treasures found inside. We’d sit at the computer, pile of cards in hand, creating detailed lists of the cards we needed, and organizing those that we had recently picked up.

I’m now in my mid-twenties with a career in full swing, a wedding on the horizon, and a seemingly endless list of get-togethers with friends all taking up a significant amount of my limited free time. Unfortunately, I don’t get to see my dad as often as I did when my brother and I were kids. My passion for collecting is as powerful as ever though, and so too is my connection with my dad.

Almost every card show I go to, I still go with my dad. Anytime I pick up a new card for our collection, I immediately call or e-mail him to make sure our lists are up to date. Anytime I see a card store, or even just a pack of cards for sale in a convenience store, I think of him and all the time we’ve spent together compiling our collection card by card.

Although it took a long time to realize the exact root of my passion for the hobby, it has been a very enlightening revelation, and not only for me. Now, whenever someone asks me why I collect, I have a way to truly express my passion for the hobby. Each and every person now seems to understand and appreciate it.

They see that it is about much more than collecting cards. It is about a bond between a father and his sons, and having a unique way to help maintain that bond as our lives inevitably pull us in different directions.

My single best experience in the hobby has been my entire experience in the hobby. Every show I attend, every pack I open, every big pull I have; all of it has been shared with my dad. That is why I collect. That is what makes every moment of collecting incredibly special to me.