3 Reasons The Sports Card Market Isn’t Crashing
Many content creators want you to believe that the sports card market is crashing. Or, at least, they want you to click into their videos about it, so they can get more views.
Here are three legitimate reasons why the sports card market is NOT crashing.
1. Data is easily manipulated.
I know this because I look at data for a living, and have for decades (yes, I'm that old). It's easy. You can look at data and use it to support whatever your opinion actually is. Two people can look at the SAME data, and come to exact opposite conclusions, and feel convicted in their opposite beliefs.
In the case of the sports card market, there are two sets of data that are confusing.
1. 2020 was a record year for sports card prices. Well, actually, those records peaked in February 2021. Not only record sales volume, but record numbers on a card-by-card basis across the board - sport by sport. The base card boom was huge, then base cards crashed. Pop count become a huge thing, etc.
So, any comparison of 2022 vs. 2020-Q1 2021 will show that "the market is down." Of course it's down, because records aren't broken every year.
Do we lose faith in Steph Curry when his PPG numbers, FG%, etc goes down year after year?
Do we think Tom Brady sucks after he loses in the conference championship game after winning the Super Bowl the year before?
Why not? He's "DOWN."
The same with data. You can't look at a year-over-year sample size and worry that the market is 10% down after a record setting year.
Only time will tell if the market has truly settled and is plateauing, dipping, etc.
2. The content creators talking about the market crashing are only looking at one set of data, that of eBay. Granted, eBay has been the primary place to buy and sell sports cards for the last several years, and it is the easiest place to pull data feeds into tools like Market Movers, Card Ladder, etc. But as we know, it is definitely only one of several places that cards are being traded.
So, not only are content creators looking at a data sample coming off a record year and making brash statements that scare the average sports card investor, but most of them are only looking at a small sliver of the data that makes up the transactions we should be taking into account.
This leads me to my next reason why the sports card market is not crashing.
2. Marketplace Fragmentation (Decentralization)
There are more places to buy and sell sports cards than EVER. This is actually a good thing - a positive sign for the sports card market - but it's creating a problem in the ability to track data accurately, thus give an accurate output of the true value of cards.
Quite simply, most data tools tracking the sales of sports cards are not only ignoring popular marketplaces like MySlabs, PWCC, Facebook Groups/Marketplace, Instagram/Twitter, Mercari, and new breaking apps like Loupe and WhatNot, but there hasn't been a reliable way to track sales at card shows or card shops, really - EVER.
I know, the argument can be made that there are general rules of thumb about frequently transacted cards that live shows and shops typically sell for 85% of eBay comps, fine - but that's still flawed considering most are leaving out MySlabs and PWCC.
Remember, eBay kicked PWCC off of its platform as a consigner - less about shill bidding really, and mostly because PWCC was launching their own competitive marketplace.
This was major hobby news when it happened in summer 2021, because PWCC was the largest account on eBay for sports cards.
The point is, with PWCC Marketplace, Goldin Auctions, MySlabs, and more all having similar types of card sales to eBay, it's looking more and more like eBay (once regarded as THE MARKET) is now just repping 25% - 50% of the transactions across all types of sports cards being traded.
NoOffseason.com's Sports Card Investment Report is now consistently pulling in data from PWCC and MySlabs in addition to eBay. We will work to incorporate Goldin Auctions and others. I'm aware that Card Ladder is also pulling in data from multiple sources.
3. There is no singular "Sports Card Market." Only Micromarkets made up of different types of sports cards. Thus, there can't be a general crash.
When many people got rich selling sports cards in 2020 after buying their inventory years earlier at much lower prices, the "Sports Card Market" as a term and "The Hobby" as a term were both born. Of course, they mean slightly different things, but we all group them together (I'm not a fan of that, for the record, but I accept that it happens).
On The Sports Card Strategy Show, we talk all the time about what athletes to watch, and what specific types of their cards to buy. That's also the premise of our free vs. premium memberships at NoOffseason.com. For free, you get our top athletes. When you upgrade, you get our analysis on which cards to buy, sell, etc. when and why - along with sales data that you get from other tools.
Why? Micromarkets. Not only is each sport a micromarket, but each athlete is a micromarket. Then, drilling down further, each card brand is a micromarket, each card release is a micromarket, and each card on each checklist of said release is a micromarket.
It's always going to be an inaccurate generalization to say that "The F1 Card Market is Down." Because you'll always have the bulk of a certain driver's cards rising like crazy.
It's always going to be an inaccurate generalization to say that "Nobody wants football cards anymore."
It's always going to be an inaccurate generalization to say "Avoid all Prizm Silver RCs."
Thus, it's always going to be an egregious, ridiculous, borderline insane generalization to make statements like "The Sports Card Market Is Crashing."
That's the first time I've ever used the word "egregious" in print or spoken word in my entire life. 🙂
In conclusion, I'm not saying to be naive and buy everything while wearing rose colored glasses. Not even close. I highly recommend doing extensive research before any purchase. I highly recommend trying to buy as low as possible to leave yourself as much profit margin in the future as possible.
I also recommend sticking to your gut and original thesis for as long as possible when making your purchasing and sales decisions. Don't operate under fear.
But don't be emotional or too prideful. Give yourself permission to get out of cards for whatever price makes sense to you and not holding for a peak sale if your thesis wasn't true. Taking a slight loss is better than being left "holding the bag."
Remember though, just because you may take several 10-15% losses, look up and look around - the market isn't crashing - you're just making the wrong decisions.
Stay in the game.
Spread the word. Share please.
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Paul Hickey is the founder of NoOffseason.com, home of the Sports Card Investment Report and The Sports Card Strategy Show. He is also a contributing writer for Sports Card Investor.
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