By Jeff Scuicco aka qualum23
I can remember when I was younger, going to the local sports card show at the Howard Johnson motel in Middle town, New York. I can remember the hours I spent looking through binders and boxes of cards, trying to find the players that I wanted the most (Don Mattingly and Mark Messier were the icons of my generation in New York). I can also remember always wanting to buy packs of cards, and always asking my father for a loan. I distinctly remember buying some packs of 90-91 Pro Set Hockey (the blue wrappers!).
My father, being the kind and gentle man that he was, would always give me a couple of dollars to buy some Pro Set. I think they were a dollar a pack, or at the most a dollar-fifty. I would open them as soon as I got home, and it didn’t matter that there wasn’t a jersey card in the pack; it didn’t matter that there were no serial numbered cards in the packs, it was just cool to me to hold in my hand a card of Mark Messier, Mario Lemieux, or one of the coolest cards in my opinion from that set, “The Puck”.
So, where am I going with this, you ask? I believe that younger collectors today have been tainted by the hobby being so jersey/patch/autograph crazy. In order to get younger collectors interested in the hobby, the manufacturers of sports cards need to step back and take a look at the average American/Canadian/European child. Does the average child have between three and five dollars to spend on a pack of sports cards? Perhaps, but they would be squandering their entire allowance or their entire loan from their parents on one purchase. Many children do not have the money to spend on sports cards!
Additionally, whatever happened to advertising in various magazines or comic books that are geared towards children. I remember reading X-Men comics and seeing the ad for the latest edition of Fleer Ultra baseball. Even though I was not interested in collecting Fleer Ultra baseball at the time (it was Topps baseball or nothing), it was cool in my opinion to see an advertisement for baseball cards in a magazine that I was reading.
I believe that the sports card companies today need to gear their advertising towards children by making a pitch that sports cards are affordable, they are collectible, and the average child can afford them. It would be nice to pick up a comic book and see an advertisement for Upper Deck Victory hockey on the back. It would be nice to read Sports Illustrated for kids and see an article about how Topps creates its baseball cards, and then see an advertisement for Topps baseball cards in the magazine.
Sports card manufacturers need to be on the same page when it comes to the future collectors of our hobby. They need to realize that children are not piggy banks of money that can spend one hundred dollars or more on a box (or a pack) of trading cards. They need to realize that children can not shell out a large amount of money to obtain a jersey card or an autographed card of their favorite player. Upper Deck has began to realize this, with the introduction of their Victory and MVP lines of products. I applaud Upper Deck for launching their Victory and MVP lines of trading cards. At one dollar a pack, many children can and do purchase the Victory and MVP lines of trading cards because it is the only brand that they can afford. The sports card companies seem to be pricing the average fan out of the market. Three hundred dollars for a box of sports cards that only contain five or six cards in it is a bit ridiculous in my opinion.
The sports card industry is tied into the sporting industry as a whole. The sporting industry as a whole (the NFL, MLB, NBA, etc.) needs to realize that they too, are pricing the average fan out of the game. For example, my family used to own a portion of season tickets to the New York Yankees. The ticket price on the tickets was $75 dollars a seat (reasonable, for where we were sitting). When the Yankees moved into their new stadium, the gentleman who we shared the tickets with came to us and stated that the Yankees had moved our seats into the left field area, and they were increasing the ticket price by almost one hundred dollars! So, needless to say, we declined to take the Yankees up on their offer.
The sporting industry and the sports card industry needs to realize that if they begin to price out the average fan from attending the games, then the average fan may never get the chance to see Derek Jeter or David Ortiz play in their lifetimes. It is a thrill for many children to go to a major league ballpark. I would imagine if you asked many sports card collectors why they collect the players that they do, I would bet that at least half of them would state “because I saw him/her play and they amazed me.” I know I can state that. I watched Don Mattingly play and was instantly taken aback by how great he was in person. My father and I knew right then and there that we wanted to collect Don Mattingly. So, I beseech you, sporting (and sports card) industry; nurture the future collectors; reach out to them with an olive branch of affordable trading cards, discounted tickets and hands-on experiences. Do not throw up financial roadblocks that hurt the average family and the average collector by pricing them out of your industries. The future of our hobby will thank you for it.
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