Think back to the times when you were first introduced into this hobby. Whether it was incidental or purposeful, how did this hobby impact you?
I was introduced at a young age, somewhere between the age of 8-9…in the mid-80’s. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, but did make an attempt to give me and my brother $4-5 to grab a random pack of cards. The moment of opening that pack of cards, the thrill of looking at the odds…and dreaming….and then finding joy in EVERY card in that pack. That was where it started.
Over the next decade, my collection evolved and it started it include the more “SP’d” cards and unique sets. I found ways to trade with the less experienced collectors in my circle. I earned my own money to go pay for packs of cards in local card shops. I’d attend the random card show in Missouri and search through the singles boxes. The enjoyment of this hobby continued to change with my maturity.
This was where it began. As a hobby. A part of my life that brought a sense of ownership and uniqueness. Something that I could control and develop. My collection.
20 years later, I sit here with a few remaining pieces of that collection…some random Drew Bledsoe binders and a few Spurs binders. Something for me to use as a getaway to the times of yonder. But…is that it?
Well, I’m still here…in this hobby. But for me it has no doubt transitioned from the innocent hobby of the 90’s…to a “ROI” driven hobby of the 2010’s. Now I don’t spend the precious moments drooling over every card that comes out of a pack. I scan for the “hit” and move on. I don’t appreciate the photos and design of the card. I just look up the value on eBay and decide to put in a top-loader.
Some of this can be chalked up to growing up. I’m an adult, I don’t have to time to appreciate these small pleasures! I need results!! Right?
Well, I have had the luxury of having a couple of older boys (ages 6 and 8) who are equally interested in sports cards. Unfortunately they’ve been tainted by my desire to see them build a “valuable” collection and not a “personal” collection. The ROI mindset is ruining the potential for the next generation of collectors. This can’t happen!!
The last few months I’ve started to implement a couple of key principles in the way I collect and share the enjoyment of this hobby. I’d challenge you to find a few ways to implement these as well…it’s important for our hobby.
#1 – Collect what you enjoy!
It’s okay to enjoy Donruss. It’s okay to enjoy Topps. As I watch my boys sleeve up their base Topps Eric Hosmer…and show it off to their friends…it reminds me of “enjoying” your cards. Find the cards that you enjoy, and go enjoy them!
#2 – Collect players that are collectable.
As a kid there is nothing better than seeing that favorite player on TV or LIVE… making a great play. And then…talking about the cool cards you have of that player. That’s what drives you to want to go find more cards of them.
This only works if you are collecting a player who impacts you. Someone who you can find enjoyment in collecting.
#3 – Give your kids a Beckett. Don’t give them eBay.
How powerful was Beckett back in our day? The day Beckett hit the mailbox was a bona fide holiday. I locked myself in a room and looked up EVERY card again. Remember those little up and down arrows? Those arrows would dictate my emotion for a few hours!
You want to get your kids authentically excited about cards, give them a Beckett and let them start to OWN their collection. It’s powerful.
#4 – Encourage old-fashioned trading.
We need our kids to be interested in building a collection. This happens through them negotiating and identifying what they like. It also encourages them to use their cards as a tool to work with others. Don’t under-emphasize the simple idea of trading cards amongst friends.
#5 – Don’t buy boxes. Buy packs.
I’m convinced that opening up cases and cases of cards has taken the pleasure out of wax (for me). This has rubbed off on my kids. So…I’m trying to bring them back to simplicity of grabbing a random pack at Target…or tossing in a pack with their allowance. Let them hang on every card they receive. Let them add those to their collection and re-sort their binder. Don’t oversaturate their growing enjoyment.
There is a heavy emphasis toward how we can impact the next generation. But these are ideas for us…the “old” collectors…as well. Remind yourself that this is before anything else…a hobby. If we can develop this excitement in our kids…we will help preserve something unique about our culture and pastime!
PS – Breaking has a reputation of being anti-hobby. I don’t agree with this idea and would welcome ideas on how to integrate breaking into your preservation and passion of the hobby!