By Andrew Sabbaghzadeh aka CUSEFAN

I have been an avid sport cards collector for as long as I can remember. I am a 29 year old married man with a MBA and run my own business, yet still love the hobby of card collecting. Some people consider the hobby as for kids or immature, yet I stand here and tell you there is nothing like it. With that being said, there is a very concerning trend with cards and the hobby which is disappearing and happening right before our eyes. It needs a total transformation and needs to get back into the spotlight for children and adults.

When I was growing up, cards were the cool thing. I remember my friends and I would spend hours trading cards and trying to get all the cards we wanted. There were always those iconic cards that seemed untouchable, yet we always tried to get them.

 

These cards were the Holy Grail. They were impossible to get, but there was always one kid who had them. That kid was the coolest kid on the block. You tried to trade him for this card and would offer him anything. The Griffey Card was worth well above $300 at one point, and that was a card that everybody knew would be worth thousands of dollars some day. You can now buy this card for $20. What happened? How is this possible?

As we all know, times change. When you would buy a box of cards in 1990, you would get one ore two rookies, and they would not be star rookies. Now, if you buy one pack of football cards, you get 5-6 rookies with a star! You open a pack and get the number 1 pick Sam Bradford! How much is this worth? You would be lucky to get $3 for it? Why? It’s simple: supply and demand. If you make things easy to get, they lose value. That is what is happening to our beloved hobby. Times are tough and people have less money to spend, so they want something that will give them return on their investments. That is what cards used to be: Investments. Now they are simply a hobby.

 

As we all know, the card industry started coming out with autographs and game used cards as a way to combat this. In the beginning, this was a great idea! The thought of getting an autograph of a NFL player was CRAZY! I remember standing in lines at Cleveland Browns training camp for hours and hours to get autographs of these larger than life players. Now I could open a pack of cards and get this? AMAZING. These days, you buy a box and are sometimes guaranteed 5-6 Autographs in it. Really? This means that the demand for these is not what it used to be. You can go to and sports cards site and buy some autos and GU cards for $1 or $2.

How do we fix this? It all starts with starting something new. Having a trend that would make this hobby come back to the spotlight. Making this something that any kid would have no choice but to love the hobby again. I think that the solution is to expand with creative and untouchable prizes. What do I mean? I would say that you need to have 5 needles in a hay stack, but rather than cards, you put in experiences. Imagine opening a pack and getting a card that states this: You have won an EXCLUSIVE ONE ON ONE DAY WITH TOM BRADY! WHAT????????????? You get to spend the day with your favorite player! If you were 12, what could be better? Obviously, these cards would have to be very, very hard to hit. You would have maybe one in ten cases or so. This would attract many new people, especially kids.

Another idea would be to market it more specifically to kids. Have the athletes start doing commercials with the cards to promote them. A further option would be for many of these companies to STOP overproducing different brands. Although it is fun to try each kind of box, it is killing the hobby. Panini needs to make 1 brand of football cards each year and make it more exclusive. As for the game used patches and autographs: They are still a valuable part, but they need to be more personalized. The patch needs to state what exact game this was from and how they did in that game. Imagine having a card with a piece of the jersey that Brett Favre wore on that Monday night game after his father passed. On the back it would state exactly when the card was produced and what part of the jersey it was from. The autographs need to be serial numbered with lower numbers and more exclusive. When you hit a Peyton Manning auto, you need to feel like this is a one in a million opportunity. Now, you can pull up hundreds of them on websites across the hobby.

This might seem a bit overwhelming and impossible, but you have to take into considerations the times we live in. Kids today have so many more things to do with their time (video games, phones, etc). The only solution is to transform the hobby back and to make it exclusive and the trendy thing. This would not only attract younger generations, but also attract the parents to want to start a collection for themselves and their future children. There would not be a better present for Christmas for your son then having them spend a day with their favorite player. I am 29 years old, but would feel like a kid if I opened that. Think about it. Think about if they had a legends edition where we adults could meet the player that we idolized. Imagine opening a pack of cards and getting a card that says you could spend a day with Michael Jordan. I get goose bumps just thinking about that. WOW.