This news story aired on CBS Sunday Morning recently and created quite a bit of dialogue within the collecting community. Before I get into my thoughts, take a few minutes to watch the piece.
Now it would be impossible to accurately show the 20-25 year history that the sportscard industry has gone through in a 4 minute piece. A lot of what was said just scratched the surface of what this hobby was, is and looks to become.
Some things that caught my ear....
"The youth are missing." You know what - they are. And why is that? Is it because the industry has changed so much that it's priced the youth right out of the market? Is it that the kids are just not interested in sportscards? Or maybe they aren't 'missing', just smaller in representation?
I think it's a bit of all three with other factors coming into play. At the end of the day, I believe this hobby is geared more towards the 16+ crowd. I don't know if there is anything that can be done to capture the youth movement in huge numbers.
I don't think the card companies have done anything to help that 'concern' (if you could call it that) either. After all, they do cater to those with a little deeper pocket than a 8 year old.
Case in point, this CW33 story (that Panini posted on their blog as a response to the CBS story and the notion that the 'hobby is dying').
To Panini, not only is the hobby not dying....it's radically transforming for a new generation.
In my opinion, they're right. Transforming for a new generation of people who can afford the cards. Did you notice in the second story that all the footage of cards used were 'hits'. I didn't see a single inexpensive card in the lot.
They say it themselves...
"Of the 60+ sports products Panini America produces in a year, 10% are targeted to kids. This is no longer a wax/bubblegum category. Males 18-55 drive the category."
So the youth are missing.
I'll admit, I was surprised to see Panini take such a stance against the CBS story. They seemed almost insulted by it. While I don't think the CBS story dove deep into stats and such, I do feel like a good chunk of what they said had some merit.
Again, it's a 4 minute news story....not an hour long documentary.
Panini even went so far as inviting the reporter to be a guest of Panini America at the upcoming National Sports Convention in Baltimore. To me, a giant show like that is just as much of a misrepresentation of the health of the sportscard industry as the card show shown in the news story. Giant annual shows are a beast that most people don't have the way, means or money to attend. So how can these shows represent the broad cross-section of the hobby.
Speaking of shows, in the CBS story, a comparison is made between a current day card show and a show that occurred in the mid-1980's.
First, I'd like to say that yes, sportscard shows just flat out aren't the same as they were during the boom of the late-80's/early-90's. Did you notice that the current day show occurred on a weekday? Attendance would surely be down for something like that. Optically, it's going to look like night and day no matter what.
What I find most unfortunate is that I love card shows. I love them even when they aren't busy. Why? Because I get to 'talk shop' face to face with other hobbyists. Because I get to window shop for cards I'll never own. Because I get to chase those cards still making a dent on my wantlist (holding out hope I'll find one). But mostly because local monthly card shows are truly what's dying in the hobby.
I predict that in less than 10 years, monthly card shows (in most cities) will be a thing of the past. Ebay, online forums and hobby boards have taken over the secondary sales element of this industry. I cringe for the day when I no longer have a show to go to.
Sure, those giant yearly shows are still there (and will still exist), but not everyone can fly in from out of town to go hunting for hockey cards.
While I felt the CBS story was lacking in real teeth when it comes to the subject of sportscards, I was especially disappointed at one of the reporter's last comments.....saying the cards on the table were "worthless".
What a blanket statement to make. They're worthless to Armen Keteyan (who I've got good money on that he's not a card collector).
All cards have worth. Not all cards are worth something to everyone though. To me, a Linden card is worth something. To the next person, it may be worth nothing. So who's right? We both are.
Thanks for that 'objective' statement Armen.
The final phrase I was left with from the story was "kids don't care". Again, I feel that's a bit of a blanket statement. There are kids who do and kids who don't. There kids who collect because it's fun and there are kids who collect because it's profitable (it's a business as opposed to a hobby). Hey, they learn by watching the adults.
At the end of the day, I feel that the hobby is not dying. The hobby is evolving. This is my hobby and I'm not letting it control me. I dictate how I want this hobby to work. I buy what I want, I ignore what I choose to ignore. It's up to me.
Just like it's up to everyone else when it comes to their own personal hobby enjoyment.
If the feeling that kids need to be attracted back into the hobby, then the card companies will have to work to make that happen. But I just don't see that happening.
I could go on a lot longer, but I'll leave it for now. I might come back to this subject later on down the road. For now, I will leave you with this final thought.
To me, a news story is an opportunity to ingest some information about a subject and then come up with your own conclusion. Don't believe everything you see and don't discard everything you see either. News stories should create thought and create discussion. They should help you form your own opinion rather than you just believe everything that is said as truth.
What are your thoughts on the news stories? What are your thoughts on the health of the hobby? Have you seen any other hobby related news stories/documentaries that made you sit back and think?