By Kyle Hymel aka FootballCardFreak

It was a warm August day; a day that I will never forget. I slowly opened the door, unsure of what to expect. All I knew was that I had 20 dollars and thousands of sports cards to choose from. “Hello,” said Mr. James, the storeowner. “Hi,” I hesitantly replied. “Let me know if you need anything bud,” Mr James cheerfully responded. I looked at all those cards for what seemed like hours, basking in their beauty. As a 10 year-old, I had never been so close to my favorite players; some of who were my childhood heroes. Finally, I found the card I wanted: Peyton Manning/Edgerrin James Donruss Playoff Team Tandems Dual GU 007/150. I looked at the price on the front of the card, and my heart sank. The card cost $25.00. I stood there pensively looking at the card. Mr. James noticed me. “Hey, bud, find anything you want?” “Yeah, I like that card, but I only have 20 dollars,” I gloomily responded. “I can tell you really like that card, so I’ll let you have it for 20 bucks,” Mr. James pleasantly replied. I walked out of the store that day with a piece of my childhood hero: Peyton Manning; and a gracious, thankful heart for Mr. James. Here is the card that started it all:

To this day, those are the two main things that keep me interested in collecting: the love for the game and the awesome people I encounter as I expand my collection. Sports card collecting isn’t just a hobby for me; it’s a passion. I am passionate about collecting not because I am always looking to show off my collection, but because of people like Mr. James: people who go out of their way in order to make collecting more fun and enjoyable for everyone. I notice that there seems to be a lot of these types of people who collect cards, especially on sports card forum.

Everyday while surfing the sports card forums on the web I see something that gives me that indescribable feeling inside. Whether it be as big as a little kid going out of his way to mail a fellow collector whom he has never met a few cards to help his collection and even drawing a picture for him, or as small as a veteran sports card collector giving a newbie some collecting advice; these amazing people are everywhere in the hobby.

There are many other reasons why I collect sports cards and because I love to collect so much, I will share these reasons with you as well. Collecting sports cards increases my interest in sports in general making me an even bigger fan than I already was which I thought was impossible. I keep track of all the different stars, rookies and transactions in order to predict who will finally live up to the hype, who will bust, and who will be the next big star. Sports card collecting has made me the ultimate fan and has helped me line my trophy case with many fantasy sports trophies.

I also love the feeling of opening up a box, completely unaware of what I am about to pull. Every time I buy a box I feel like a little kid on Christmas day who has no care in the world and is so excited to see what is on the other side of the wrapping paper.

I also like to collect sports cards as a challenge to myself. I like the rush I get from collecting rare items or collecting a little known player before he becomes a big star. The challenge and sense of accomplishment when I finally get the last card to a set is exhilarating.

I love the fact that sports card collecting has no restrictions and allows me to communicate with all types of people. I have witnessed that sports cards can bring anyone together. I love to go to the local card shop and talk to all of the buyers. I remember at one point two young kids, a college kid, a woman, an old man, and I were all in the shop talking about sports cards and enjoying each other’s company when I thought about this: how many other instances have I witnessed a group of complete strangers at completely different ages come together to enjoy each other’s company in the way that we were?

Maybe I have just been lucky to meet such great people while trying to reach my sports card endeavors, but I don’t think this is a coincidence. The great people whom I have encountered while collecting sports cards will always be remembered by me. Their graciousness, generosity, and selflessness will always have a place in my heart. Even if I don’t collect sports cards for the rest of my life, the morals and values that have been instilled in me while collecting will forever be a part of my life.