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Why Sports Cards are holding value during adverse times.

Why Sports Cards are holding value during adverse times.


This guest post came through our Article Submission Program. Thoughts and opinions are those of the author.


In this article, we discuss why the sports card market has not diminished during the recent pandemic and, in some cases, thrived.

So why…

Disclaimer – I’m not an economist, nor I’m qualified to provide any investment advice. The following write up is solely my observation and opinion on the above subject matter.

So now that’s out of the way, here’s a recap – Invest in sports cards now!

So why the optimism amongst the uncertainties that’s going on in the world? Indeed, the pandemic and how it affects the world and its economies is nothing to belittle about. The people of the world today have either gone through or learned from the history of how we, as people of the world, survive and persevere through adversities such as economic recessions, wars, and pandemics, to name a few. Yes not everyone comes out unscathed, but if you are here reading this article, you are probably one of the many who are hunkering down at home with your families, having set aside your resources for such a rainy day, waiting out for the worse to blow over, and cherry-picking great deals that are out there.

If we dive into world history during times of depression, sports have always been the outlet that brings people together. Hence this is the general spirit of why we have the Olympics in the first place. People turn to sports not just as a form of entertainment, but it creates a strong feel-good factor which can’t be compared if you spent the time to watch the latest movie or buy the latest gadget. People always turn to sports when times are not great. Hence its why governments, not just in the United States but globally, are trying to get their sporting events back on track. The Tokyo Olympics are out, but individual government realizes that people need sports as something they can rally on and feel good at times like today.

As such, sports cards as a hobby could be the first to rebound when sports get back underway, whether it’s happening in a controlled environment (no fans) or a private island. Nevertheless, having access to live televised sporting events, if the NBA gets back on track and both MLB and NFL kick off (albeit some delays in the season), is exactly the fuel the hobby needs to jump-start and as investors its something that you need to be ready for. Of course, while I’m writing this, there are already people ahead of the game where you can see prices of Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo have already started to curved backup and, in some cases, moving to heights beyond pre-pandemic prices. Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson cards took a small dive, but the decrease has slowed down, and we are starting to see the curve swing back up.

Another factor why sports card values haven’t seen a dramatic decline (I’m referring to 40-60% slide) when compared to 2008 is because people – both collectors and investors have been savvier when it comes to spending money on the hobby in recent years. The concept of disposable income when we start buying cards now has a reinforced meaning where we, as investors and collectors, have better holding power than before. Hence you see less influx of collections and a large volume of cards into the market, which freefalls prices. Of course, its unfortunate for some that are truly affected where they need to move some cards to raise cash for necessities, but from my observation, the frequency is considerably lower, and the only medium to lower-end cards appear in fire sales and auctions. Higher-end cards are either taken off listings or prices maintained high as its owners are just sitting and waiting for the market to rebound. So if you’re waiting for the situation to get worse to cherry-pick more deals, you may find yourself on an escalating price war instead as investors start to flood back into the hobby.

I, of course, think it’s arrogant for people whom of better financial stature during this trying times to be saying things like “Bring them on, I’ll buy all of them if prices tank.” As a community of investors, we are in the business of making money, and regardless of your financial situation, we need to continue to invest wisely, professionally and not expressively taking advantage of people’s lesser situation.

A great look into history and a few reasons why the sports card market has not crashed. Do you have any ideas on why the market has continued to hold firm with only minor dips?

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View Comments (18)
  • I’m from a small town, I’ve posted stuff I’ve tried to sell stuff, The market is dead. Especially with 3.5 million cards. Vermont

  • I’m tired of the big money douchebags that buy up all the retail stock at places like Walmart and Target and sell them for three times the price on eBay!! They are ruining the hobby. During this horrible time I wanted to enjoy some newer releases and the hobby to take my mind off the bullshit. Unfortunately, I cannot because of these card mongers are trying to make a buck and screw other hobbyists. 😡😡

    • I agree Ted! However if you really want some cards, looks as though WMT just repenished – online – some 2019 football. Buy and hold or open and have fun!

  • I have comic cards and sports cards that date back to the 80s and no one has ever reached out. See several of same online. I have Nolan Ryan from Donruss and Daryl Strawberry.

  • As a 30 year hobbyist I feel this is a combination of factors well beyond the unifying of a population around a regional or national sports organization. I believe the lack of gambling material has contributed to the increase in group breaking. I believe there is market manipulation happening from influencer personalities targeting specific types of cards which are not easily trackable (i.e. no serial numbers, prime memorabilia pieces or autographs) to then buy for a period of time at a low price then use their influence to get others buying those same items in droves only to sell off their stock at a peak market price at a profit (pump and dump schemes). Boredom is a very real possibility for some as their disposable income is not being spent on other products or activities during a closure of nonessential businesses. This is not a simple issue with a blanket answer.

  • My theory is much simpler, overall number of buyers. In a stock market there’s only one buy/sell price for a stock. That price moves according to supply demand and for popular stocks, it takes millions of shares and herd mentality to push one way or the other.
    For a popular card on Ebay, it only takes two buyers. At any price, on any given day, if two people want the same card, price goes up. And with the popularity of cards, finding two people is not difficult regardless of the economy.
    I do think that quality of cards is important during this time. Overall people will want to purchase less junk (and card companies are dutiful to make sure there’s always lots of junk on the market, sad). But for quality cards and big names, I don’t think it will ever be hard to find at least two people to bid unless we enter a depression.

  • I continue to invest in vintage (pre 1970),always looking for the best price. I believe the demand will be there at least for the next 30 to 40 years and probably beyond. They always seem to retain 85+% of value regardless of the economic situation.

  • I think part of it is that since there are no sports right now, the speculation of who will break out in whatever sport never ends. In normal times, bets are made at the beginning of the season and many of those bets are lost and the card values go down. Then people make new bets based on the performances of other players during the season and those bets are won or lost via the prices of that player’s cards going up o down.

    Right now, however, all of us are winning and losing bets purely on whether or not we are right about the SPECULATION, of a player’s card, not the performance. Interesting times indeed.

  • I had to release some of my collection during this Pandemic. I only collect high end graded rookie cards and graded/ non graded rookie autograph cards. I’ve been buying and selling off of ebay for over 10 years.. Here’s a cool story. About 3 1/2 years ago there was one month where I went on buying spree. In one sitting, I purchase (2) PSA 10 Peyton manning topps chrome rookies along with 1 psa 10 Peyton manning Bowman chrome rookies. I paid $162 a piece on the topps chrome ones and $90 for the bowman chrome. I also had a hunch that Patrick Mahomes would be a star and spent $67 on a Non Graded Panini Spectra rookie auto serial numbered to 75. I can go on and on with other great cards I bought. So a year later I had my Peyton Mannings for sale at $399 a piece on ebay. Had no offers. So last month I’m sitting at work and I get an email from an Ebay buyer. He said, “do you still have your Peyton manning Topps chrome Psa 10 for sale?” I said, I have it. So then he says, I can give you $3,000 for it. I thought it was a joke since the last time I looked, the card was about $350. Instead of saying yes, I told him that I would get back to him. So I went on ebay and looked the card up. It was selling between $4,000-$8,000. I thought they were the refractors, but they weren’t. I asked buddies at work, “What did Peyton Manning do lately? Any news?”They said nothing new. Now I have no idea what caused these cards to sky rocket at all. I needed money bad too. It’s like god did this for me. Long story short, I put it on ebay an hour later for $5,995. It sold for full price in a little over an hour. I can show you guys. I couldn’t believe it. I also sold the Mahomes for $1,800. Wish I didn’t sell the Mahomes now that I think about it. Doe’s anyone know what caused Peyton Manning cards to sky rocket in 2 years? I’m holding the other Topps chrome and I have the bowman chrome Psa 10 for sale for $1200 if anyone is interested.

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