If you're heading into your 40s and interested in Sports Cards, this is for you. If you collect or flip Sports Cards but were born after 1985, this article is NOT for you. You won't relate to this content.
You didn't grow up the way we did and quite frankly, are unlikely to have any of the perspective I'm about to drop here.
Shocked? I meant that. My content really is only for dudes that are approaching 40 or already in their forties, and are trying to get back into collecting sports cards.
I know exactly who my audience is, because I'm a member. I, like you, have collected cards since the late 1980s with a HUGE break between ages 12 and 38 (with the exception of short stints with my kids).
Now that we've lost the punk 19 year-old college "bruhs," we can be real.
We just found our card collections, and we're definitely in a bit of shock how things have changed.
And we're starving to once again find joy and fulfillment in collecting sports cards.
As I've elaborated at length in my recent book released on Amazon available here...
- You can't just walk into retail stores anymore and buy packs for your kids for reasonable prices.
- After getting price boners looking at eBay, you realize your cards aren't actually worth anything substantial unless they're graded by a company like PSA, who is constantly backed up and has wait times of around a year to get your cards back.
- The good old days are gone, and "The Hobby" that we all remember fondly is filled with high-dollar investors that we can't really compete with, or 19 year-old card flippers who move back and forth between Target, PaniniAmerica.net and NBA TopShot at fucking light speed while we're at work earning a living for our families or watching our kids.
But, we don't let that get us down! This is, after all, SPORTS CARDS! Nothing can change our love for following sports and collecting cards of the teams and athletes we love.
So, after getting back into collecting sports cards at age 39, let me give you a few tips on how to stay calm, cool and collecting.
But first, a bit of context.
I've made the decision that I want collecting sports cards to be a big part of my life once again. It's like Fantasy Sports, Stock Market Trading and Sports Gambling on steroids and I can move at my own pace, while working on my businesses and spending time with my family.
Collecting sports cards combines skills like player scouting, entrepreneurship, economics, accounting and gut feeling and is just fun as shit.
After talking with my wife, I've decided this is part of who I am, and my long term journey.
Okay, so here are my tips on how to stay calm, cool and collecting well into your forties (and for as long as you want, really)...
1. Let Go Of The "I've Gotta Have The Whole Set" Mindset.
You are already probably finding it hard and expensive to collect full sets. Collecting sets is something that people like you and I grew up doing. You'll be happier and more fulfilled if you let this go. The card companies are large businesses. Think of them as the next Amazons, Apples and Facebooks. Panini and Topps are HUGE and they control everything. So if you're trying to collect sets like Panini Hoops, Donruss or Select for any pro sports league, let alone Prizm, it's going to be impossible to do so without blowing your life savings and losing your job. Just accept that now. Even if you're trying to collect subsets of Topps Project70, like artists or whatever, you're going to spend a fortune and be frustrated with pricing. Get over it and find your own way within the new world of sports card collecting. Lose the "I've got to get the whole set" mindset and accept the new game. Personal Collections (PCs) are cool and fully accepted, but the person who focuses on PCs only these days is usually too much of a purist for my tastes. More on that in Tip 3.
2. Don't Worry About Cards As An Alternative Investment.
At first I was fascinated by the fact that my old collection could potentially be worth enough combined for a down payment for a new home for my family, and while part of me is still pursuing that goal, the reality is that it's a ton of work to go through your old cards, get them graded and sell them for a profit.
It's also super risky to buy cards as investments. Not that I don't strongly consider dropping hundreds on Luka and Zion rookies on a daily basis, I also know that those moves likely will just add stress to my life and not help me enjoy my time.
I love the Sports Card Investor app, products, content and team more than I can articulate, but it's because their content and approach has helped me become motivated to get involved at more than just an investment level in sports cards, despite their name.
This is the part where I go into how fun it is to be historically correct. Millions of people still play fantasy sports every year for no money. They live for the drafts with their friends; the bragging rights, and the fake trophies.
They spend more time researching waiver moves than working on their work powerpoint presentations because picking the right RB for Week 7 means more to them than another submission to a client. To me, this is NOT sad. This is reality.
This is what Sports Card Collecting can be for you. It can be competitive and fun because you can be historically correct with your predictions AND have the cards to show for it without worrying about large enough return on investment to justify time spent.
3. Know What To Expect When You're Asking For Help Online.
One of the reasons why I asked people younger than us to stop reading this article before it really started is because they're righteous as fuck on Facebook Groups, sub-Reddits and Twitter. They create communities that value specific written and unwritten rules. Rules that are specifically designed to tear people down that unknowingly break them.
Specifically, you can be chastised and ridiculed for asking simple questions in sub-Reddits and Facebook Groups, or for not being "valuable enough" with your posts, or God forbid posting a link to a resource outside of the group. For being "spam" or not a "purist" or whatever bullshit excuse they give for being dicks.
This is unfortunate, because there are thousands of really good people in these communities. In 99% of cases, the original intent of the moderator was to create a safe space to discuss a topic, but what has ensued is nothing short of stalking and bullying when certain people feel like tearing others down.
Just because you're trying to figure out who to PC or what cards to collect, doesn't mean people have the right to treat you like a piece of shit. Don't let them.
I'm definitely not saying to avoid these communities.
You can get value there, build relationships with other collectors, and more than anything, buy, sell and trade cards - which is kind of the crux of all of this, right?
What I'm saying is, think twice about posting if you can't take any additional stress at the moment. Your post will get responded to, and it won't always be positive. In fact, there's always a chance you'll experience some hate that you thought you left behind in 12th grade.
Reason being, many of the tens of thousands of people in these online communities just graduated 12th grade.
I recently had one person tell me that I needed to spend as much time thinking through how my Reddit post would be perceived as I did preparing with my wife to have our first child!
He's 19! He's the child.
This was after he tried to make me feel like a piece of shit in the comments for "not posting something with enough value."
This coming from a community that 85% of the time posts a picture of their new Justin Herbert rookie auto that they got on #MailDay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sorry. I'm still a little sore from that experience, but I'm not letting it stop me, and you shouldn't let it stop you either.
But if you're looking for a safe space to ask questions that 19-year old punk assholes would call you stupid or worse for, join my sub-Reddit here - no question too stupid.
4. Stay Positive And Embrace The Online Aspect.
If you can stop yearning for the card shops you grew up with and use PaniniAmerica.net and Topps.com as your new marketplaces to browse, with eBay, Amazon, Facebook Marketplace and even Etsy as alternative places to shop for cards - and shoutout to my friends at TheCardFlip.com also, you can definitely find joy and fulfillment in the hobby long term. Here are some things I encourage you to do:
Join Panini and Topps e-newsletters and stay informed on the upcoming drops. Make decisions on what you think is cool, and set calendar dates to buy the product you want and have it shipped directly to your door straight from the manufacturers themselves. How cool is this concept? We could never do this as kids! Now we can.
I also highly recommend joining the Sports Card Investor email list. Their newsletter is stellar and they have great staff writers like DeMarco Williams with super compelling content. Their daily lineup of content on YouTube / Podcast is phenomenal, and has gotten me back into following the major sports leagues along with just the cards themselves.
So much fun.
So if you ever find yourself wishing that packs of cards still cost less than a dollar, or that you could go into a card shop and find treasures in a dollar bin, remind yourself that's exactly as annoying as when your grandfather used to tell you how movies were a nickel and candy was a penny.
Don't be that guy.
Flipping cards is a young man's game. Investing in cards is a rich man's game. Wishing for the old days is a perpetually discontent man's game. You're getting old, but that doesn't mean to you have to act old. The new world of card collecting is layers more fun than the old one.
I hope these tips help you find the joy in sports card collecting for the long term and be thankful that dudes like us collecting sports cards is actually socially acceptable! 🙂
Paul Hickey is a Digital Creator, spending about about 60% of his work time building WordPress websites for small businesses, 20% of his work time running an eCommerce Sports Cards and Digital Collectibles business at NoOffseason.com and another 20% of his work time authoring books and creating digital art in the form of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).
In each of his entrepreneurial endeavors, he believes it's important to create a community. He strives to do this by creating helpful content for his audience (community members) to learn about the topics he's interested in.
This is why he creates content on the following topics:
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