OPINION: Sports cards market not quite done yet

by | Feb 19, 2021 | Opinion

It has been a little more than a year since the world changed forever, with COVID-19 bringing with it a bevy of problems. But one of the few surprising positives during this time of lockdown has been the revival of the sports card market.

The pandemic forced people to drop some of their hobbies and create new ones. One many people chose was to relive their youth and the joy of cracking open a pack, seeing which players they pulled.

Collecting sports cards was extremely popular during the time of the Millennials, hitting its peak in the early ’90s. The resurgence has brought some much-needed life to older collectors while bringing along a new generation.

All this is accompanied by what can only be described as a price explosion.

New cards have the potential to sell upwards of three to 10 times the retail price in secondary markets, especially if they are sold unopened. This makes buying and selling sports cards similar to the stock market, even mimicking what can raise the price, a player’s real-life performance.

Earlier this year in during a December auction a mint condition 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card was sold for $1.29 million. O-Pee-Chee cards are the most desirable for NHL card collectors due to the difficulty of finding them, in part because of low-quality card stock and printing standards of the time.

But these types of prices aren’t as abnormal as people think. There are plenty of cards that surpass the $100,000 mark with cards like Mickey Mantle, Mike Trout and Honus Wagner atop of the list of most expensive cards in the world. We’re talking millions here.

Sports cards aren’t the only collectible, as non-sports cards are also seeing a boost. Pokémon cards, the popular anime television series created in the late’ 90s, remains, well, hot. The difference between Pokémon and sports cards is that Pokémon market has been driven by social media more than sports cards.

Companies have also capitalized on the influx of collectors, with McDonald’s now offering Pokémon cards in Happy Meals.

Dean’s Cards, one of the most popular websites for buying and selling vintage cards, has seen record numbers in sales recently, with January 2021 breaking the monthly sales record.

Vintage cards were once the only player to dominate the market in demand and price pre-COVID-19, but with the surge in young collectors wanting their favourite modern player’s card, their value has soared while keeping the vintage market intact.

What might be the coolest thing to watch in the basketball cards market right now is seeing how volatile the cards’ values are following a good game or a bad one. Your favourite player can have an absurd stat line one night sparking a doubling or even tripling in value.

There’s no cap on the potential of what all these cards can go for in future especially with us staying at home spending our nights watching sports, wondering when life will go back to normal and social media driving the prices of these cards, there’s really no telling what might happen.

No matter if you just want to collect, invest or just buy and sell, there’s a spot for everyone in the sports card community right now. In a time where we could all use something good, sports fans have a clear option right in front of them.