By: Joseph Torviso, Guest Contributor
In the space of 19 days, an athlete who was once shunned in the sports card community amassed 116 total sales of his sports cards. This comes after the footballers’ charges of rape were dropped on Febuary 2. The player is Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood.
Like stocks, the sports card market has its ups and downs. A player's card value is mainly determined on how the player is performing on the field and their expected potential. In some cases, a player's off-the-field antics also affects his or her card value.
When Greenwood was arrested in January 2022, Manchester United suspended him. This resulted in his card sales plummeting.
According to Card Ladder, from November 1 to February 1, three months before the charges were dropped, there were a total of 134 sales of Mason Greenwood cards. From February 2 to February 20, there were 116.
As his cards are selling at a rapid pace, we have to wonder why?
“Given the general consensus on Greenwood's character, I do not think anyone is buying his cards out of genuine fandom for the athlete,” said Anthony Dingle, a 32 year old sports card collector. He believes the people who bought the cards think that they will see some sort of profit from them in the near future.
“I’m not saying these people are only doing this to make money, but this could be a strong possibility,” said Greg Lanctot, a Montreal native. Lanctot, 37, is an investor. “I’m very careful with the players I invest in and he’s not [one] of these players.” Although the sales are coming in for Greenwood cards, he did not invest in him before the allegations and does not see a reason why he should start now.
“I think it’s people taking a risk,” said soccer and hockey collector Paulo Gomes-daCosta. “They are looking at the opportunity where it’s low cost to buy something where they could have a high reward.” Gomes-daCosta has been collecting cards since the 1986 World Cup. He has witnessed the hobby deal with similar cases and has a general idea of what will happen. “If he signs somewhere or he plays for United, you’ll probably see those same individuals who bought those cards put them up [for sale] right away.”
When shown an eBay listing for a PSA 10 Mason Greenwood Rookie Ticket Cracked Ice 1/23 that sold for $1,135.15 plus $13.99 shipping from Singapore, Gomes-daCosta commented on how the purchase was “A huge risk.”
Gomes-daCosta has a sports card podcast on Spotify where he talks about soccer prospects and news regarding the hobby. “We are a forgiving society,” he said. “You had some breakers that ripped [Greenwood’s] cards up right away, but you have some of those same breakers that are Kobe Bryant fans.”
In 2003, the late Kobe Bryant found himself in a similar situation as Greenwood. A then 19-year-old hotel employee accused Bryant of raping her in his hotel room. A civil lawsuit was filed against Bryant later that year which was settled out of court.
According to Card Ladder, in that same 20 day period of Mason Greenwood sales, there were 1,737 verified Kobe Bryant card sales. This proves that not only is our society forgiving, but so is the hobby. Only time will tell if sports card collectors forgive Greenwood as they did with Bryant.
This isn’t the only time we have seen the hobby buy up a player's cards after news broke out about them.
“We saw spikes in Pele sales when he unfortunately passed [away] in December,” said Greg Lanctot. “I mean I believe people reacted and the market reacted. [They wanted] to own some cards and… some people tried to raise the prices a day after.”
The legend passed away at age 82 after a long battle with cancer. His card prices were always high due to his accomplishments as a player. They continued to rise after the news broke out about his death, and the sales did too. There were 548 sales of Pele cards from December 29, 2022, to January 4, 2023.
In American football, there was the Damar Hamlin situation. Before his cardiac arrest, there were a total of 130 sales of his cards. From the day of his heart attack to the end of the next day, there were an incredible 190 sales.
“I would say it’s a similar situation,” said Paulo Gomes-daCosta. He sees a pattern in how the hobby buys up a player's cards. It seems that after breaking news comes out regarding a player, his or her cards either get bought up or prices crash down.
As Gomes-daCosta says on his podcast in regards to investments, “If you're not early, you’re late.” We don’t know what Greenwood’s future holds. Only time will tell if these purchases pan out in the long run. What we do know is that they are risky.
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