Competitive Sports Card Collecting is like Fantasy Sports mixed with the Stock Market, mixed with Sports Betting...with Entrepreneur-flavored sprinkles on top.
It's all about skill, pride and bragging rights. It's filled with failures disguised as learning experiences; and losses that ultimately help your long-term winning percentage.
And the best part is, it doesn't at all need to be about high stakes or big money. In fact, it should be a stress-free experience that doesn't put your family in a bad financial position, ever.
Whether you just found your old sports card collection and are feeling some juices flowing, or you're a seasoned card flipper or big money long-term investor, I'm going to introduce a new concept that I believe appeals to every sports card fanatic - Competitive Sports Card Collecting.
“Competitively” collecting cards makes life more fun. Just like Fantasy Sports, I want to make sports related predictions that come true, so I can feel good about myself, accomplish “something,” and yes, brag to some of my closest family members and friends about it. NoOffseason.com used to be a fantasy football website where I’d make predictions about which players would breakout, and which would suck. Every Monday during the NFL season from 2006-2012 I’d write a column called “WE WERE RIGHT ABOUT...WE WERE WRONG ABOUT.” I’d simply jock myself for my correct predictions, and laugh at myself for my incorrect ones. I’m not sure if the readers liked it, but I loved it.
This is the main reason why I’ve decided to continue to collect sports cards into my 40s. It’s fantasy sports on steroids, to use my earlier example. And, oh by the way, you also have the cards.
So, if you think Trae Young is going to end up being a top 50 NBA Player of All Time when he retires, invest in his rookie card. Don’t have the bucks to do that? Then buy some of his second year cards and hold them. Then it will be WAY more fun to watch him drop 40 points on the Magic next year, etc.
My recent predictions include Saquon Barkley bouncing back from his knee injuries in 2020 to gain more than 2.5k yards from scrimmage and catch 100 passes in 2021. I recently purchased a Donruss Rated Rookie PSA 10 of his for about $75 on Etsy. I believe that card will triple in value by Week 6 of this upcoming NFL season and I’ll sell it as the Giants feed him the rock through Week 17. I’m not saying to invest in him specifically, but rather to use this example as a model. Read on and find out why.
Because I want to challenge myself to be right, and reap the benefits of being historically correct on my predictions, I’m considering myself a bit different from someone who just has a personal collection of his favorite players.
I’m not just a personal collector or nor investor, I’m a “competitive collector.” And I believe you are likely to become one too. If you agree, these next few tips will really help you.
Personal Collector = Someone who collects cards of their favorite players, and still likes those cards regardless of that player’s success.
Investor = Someone who spends money on cards solely for their future monetary value.
Flipper = Someone who buys products for a minimum and re-sells them for a maximum. These are typically the guys that buy out all of the unopened packs from Target, Walmart and PaniniAmerica.net and immediately conduct breaks and eBay auctions to "flip for 3x-5x" their cost.
Competitive Collector = Someone who uses strategy to predict who the next stars will be, acquires their cards before they become the next stars, then decides what to do with the cards when their predictions come to fruition.
So while there currently is no universal scoring system or automated way to track your success, NoOffseason.com will be a place that blogs about how to be a successful Competitive Sports Card Collector and keep track of your predictions and accuracy.
The main way to track accuracy and success is to simply document what you originally paid for a card, and track its increase or decrease in value over time. I do this within a simple GSheet. My methodology and strategy is clearly outlined in my book, What To Do After You Find Your Old Sports Card Collection: The Middle-Aged Dude’s Guide To Selling Old Sports Cards.
But generally, you set your own scoring system. For example, you can play the game with raw, ungraded cards, or with graded cards from PSA, BGS, SGC, CSG, HGA or any other grading company; or with cards you plan on buying raw and submitting for grading.
Competitive Sports Card Collecting combines your ability to accurately predict player success with your ability to anticipate the market supply and demand of a specific graded card, ungraded card, or sealed wax product.
Some recent moves I've made:
- Buying Ansu Fati rookies raw to get graded. I bought his 2019 Panini MGK Rookie for only $15, and it's now worth $119 according to current eBay comps (something else I'll blog about). It's also going for nearly $4k consistently as a PSA 10. So if you think about it, I've already won my initial bet, and now I can double down by sending in to PSA. There are so many decisions, each with layers upon layers, that competitive sports card collecting is one of the most fascinating concepts I've come across in my career.
- Buying Jaren Jackson, Miles Bridges, James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards rookies for less than $10 each. Why not? It's WAY more fun than buying home improvement shit from Lowe's or Home Depot, and for the price of a Chic-fil-a sandwich, I'd rather take a small gamble on the success of these guys.
- Ordering the new pre-NFL Draft rookie cards in the 1989 Pro Set style directly online from Leaf. I got some Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Davonte Smith rookies for less than $5/each, and I'm pretty sure their value will be 5x-6x that in a few months just before the 2021 NFL Season starts.
- Buying some select sealed wax from 2018, 2019 and 2020 for La Liga, NBA and NFL.
Even if you're reading this when the aforementioned players are obsolete, the concepts will never be.
And talking to your friends and business associates about your moves will never get old.
Money-wise, spend as much or as little as you want, but do me a huge favor.
Have fun collecting Sports Cards. Make sure it adds joy to your life. If it doesn’t, take a break for a few weeks, re-evaluate, and get back into it if you want. Shit, open up a few packs with your kids and enjoy their reactions. A nice “time-capsule” day with the family spent opening up packs from the past is a great back-up plan if you’re competitive collecting doesn’t go as planned.
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).
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