Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Why Should Kids Start Collecting?

Guys and Gals, I’m sorry to be so lazy on new posts the last few days but my back is killing me. I don’t think I’ve ever been this sunburned. To those of you who may have read this post on WaxHeaven some time ago, again, I apologize. Until today I had assumed that everyone that had come to this site had made it here via Mario’s blog. After realizing I could view some very detailed statistics via WordPress Dashboard I found that many of you have found my site through various other sources. Regardless of how you got here, I appreciate your continued visits to the site.

To those of you who missed this original posting on WaxHeaven, I would like to duplicate it here for you tonight. I am posting it without photos as it was originally written without them. I have a second essay submitted for the newest contest at Sports Card Fun. As soon as the contest ends, I’ll have it posted along with a list of the winners. Enjoy!

The following is an essay that I submitted to www.sportscardfun.com for a contest. The Grand Prize was a hobby box of 2008 Topps. I placed second. Second Place prize was a pat on the back. I think I failed to place first because of the publicity it received at WaxHeaven prior to the contests end. My wife thinks it’s because I didn’t answer the question in the truest sense. You be the judge…

The essay question reads, “Why Should Kids Start Collecting?”

“As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t anticipate winning the box of 2008 Topps. It’s not that I can’t effectively and articulately pen a response to the question at hand. I can. It’s not that I don’t want the box. Trust me, I do. It’s that my answer is controversial and may not be exactly what you’re looking for.

Kids shouldn’t start collecting baseball cards. They currently do not have a single reason to. And I don’t think it has as much to do with the competition for their attention as some might think. The Sports Card industry has become a convoluted mess of inserts, game used memorabilia, and endless variations. It is no longer a hobby for children in much the same way that video games are no longer made for 8 year olds.

The “targeted demographic” for sports collectibles are those guys that started out buying up Donruss with their allowance. Those that can afford the price structure that the hobby has evolved into. Who’s purchasing the new ultra violent PS3 games? Guys that used to play Super Mario while listening to New Kids on the Block. The kids that made these industries boom are all grown up now.

This creates another question. What made ME start collecting baseball cards as a kid? I have to answer that by saying that I know what made me, until recently, stop collecting. Price. Undecipherable variations. Bloated sets that made it impossible to “collect”. Professional grading. The magic has been lost in the marketing.

I am 28 years old with extensive computer knowledge. I have subscriptions to all of the major price guides to include Beckett’s Online Database. Yet, I have wrestled for over 6 months to figure out which variation I have of a 2007 Topps Co-Signers Hanley Ramirez. I pulled a Babe Ruth 2007 Goudey Immortals Jersey out of a retail box. My wife didn’t want me touching the jersey. When did the monetary value become more important than running my finger across a jersey worn by the Bambino? I attempted to copy and paste a list of all the Manny Ramirez cards in existence from Beckett into a spreadsheet. My computer crashed four times before I gave up. How could I even begin to create a master set of all of Manny’s stuff when 25% or more are all “One-of-Ones”

Why is there only one 2007 Upper Deck First Edition, yet you have Elements, Future Stars, Premier, Sp Rookie, Spectrum, UD Masterpieces, UD Black, etc. Tell me who that’s geared towards? Look at the pricing for these packs and then show me a kid that wants to spend their only $10 bucks for the week to get 4 cards. Card Manufacturers need to change their intent, not their strategy.

Finally, what made me start back? Almost a year ago, I opened my old shoe boxes to see what I could sell on eBay. As I sorted through the cards “one last time” I was amazed that I could identify the players on each card before I ever saw the name. Guys like Hensley Meulens, Bo Diaz, Luis Polonia, Jeff Blauser, Phil Plantier, etc. That is what made me come back home.

I don’t know that the industry, based on the question, can be fixed. I do know however, a 4 year old t-ball star sleeping soundly in his bed right now that is going to help me put together a hand collated set of ragged 1990 Topps sometime in the near future. I won’t have to market anything. I won’t have a strategy for convincing him of how fun it can be. I do have faith that he’ll understand the enthusiasm and the magic in my eyes. I trust that my son will hear the faint whisper of a hobby tradition long gone.”

I’m kinda glad I didn’t win the first one. I would rather have a box of 2008 Bowman for this contest than the Topps for the first one.

Actually, since I’m pretty useless at posting right now, I think Connor and I will go and start that 1990 Topps Set. I have enough commons so we might just build one apiece…

Have a good night, everyone!


Dave said...

June 3, 2008 at 5:17 am e

Have you tried using aloe vera gel on your back? That always works for my sunburn.

Anyway, that is a great essay, and I did read it at Wax Heaven when Mario first posted it. I actually can see a day in the future when kids do start collecting again. While they may not be able to afford the high end products, there are several lower cost sets that they should be able to afford that are very fun to collect. Also, now that we have only two card companies and a limit on the number of sets they can produce per year, I think it’s easier to get into (or get back into) the hobby. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but when I see some of the cool sets being produced now, the increasing number of blogs about cards and other card-related sites (and kids do love the internet!), and the increasing attendance figures at baseball games, I am hopeful of a hobby resurgence in the coming years.

I checked out the sportscardfun.com site, and I think the current essay question is kinda lame “Which ONE do you prefer, a good baseball card show or a good baseball card shop? Why?”. Um, I prefer a good card show because there’s more to buy at a show than a shop. I have no idea how to elaborate on it more than that. But good luck winning the box of Bowman!

jv said...

June 3, 2008 at 11:58 am e

Someone at the Aloe Vera company will probably get a bonus check this month because of the spike in sales from me using so much…lol. I’m literally swimming in it at night.

I agree with a good portion of what you’re saying, but I’m a very pessismistic person. A pessimist is either always right, or pleasantly suprised… I want to see more kids get into the hobby but it’s not as magical as it was when we were young. There’s something missing from the hobby. It’s so weird to feel that way about it considering the hobby has MORE to offer now than it did when I was a child. If I had to guess, I would say this is the most important question facing the hobby. And probably one of the more controversial.

As far as the next essay, I almost didn’t enter the contest. When I first read the question I wondered if I would have enough to say on the topic. I was surprised after I finished writing that I actually did have a pretty staunch opinion about it. I can’t wait to post the next one. The contest ends Thursday, June 5, so as soon as the winners are announced I’ll have a post about it.