Thursday, July 13, 2006

Part 4: Demise of MLB...

Some people may laugh at the following blog, but I really do think this could help MLB moving forward.

The Demise of Baseball Cards

You may be wondering how baseball cards are important to the future of MLB. During the late 1970s and all through the 1980s, baseball cards rose to the height of their interest with kids and adults alike. The baseball card industry was such a thriving business that numerous people made careers in selling cards. As I kid, I was always amazed to read the magazine stories of entrepreneurs who made a livable income selling sports cards.

By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the baseball card industry was close to an all-time high is consumer interest. Unfortunately, I believe the sports card companies became greedy and began to “chip away” at the viable business model that was created. From 1987 on, the sports card companies saturated the market with sports card that drove down the prices and the interest in the industry. Over the next ten years, numerous companies tried to bring different card sets to the market. This type of product development overwhelmed collectors, including myself, since there were so many different brands.

Last year, Erik Spanberg wrote an article for the Christian Science Monitor entitled, “An industry reshuffles to recapture its youth” about the future of sports cards and noted, “The baseball-card industry, once an innocent childhood realm and then a speculative hotbed for collectors in the 1990s, is now scrambling to regain relevance. Executives and veteran observers say the recent shakeup may help stanch the bleeding after years of saturation and soaring prices. At the same time, all agree that the demographic responsible for making baseball cards a flourishing enterprise - kids - must be courted in earnest.”

What is so important with baseball cards? These cards help kids learn about the game, learn about statistics and learn more about players themselves. If they know the names and faces of players, they are more interested in watching and possibly playing the sport in the future. From personal experience, I can guarantee I learned more about baseball history and its product (players) through collecting baseball cards. Card collecting offers kids the opportunity to have a hobby, learn about statistics, learn about free trade (trading cards) and can develop a stronger bond with a player or team.

What needs to be done to revitalize this hobby? It will be extremely challenging, but card companies need to limit the surplus of baseball cards that are developed moving forward to increase the demand and interest. They should also consider donating baseball cards to kids in school and to Little League teams to introduce and create excitement with sports card collecting. From an economic standpoint, this can help the card companies as well as MLB if more kids are interested in following the game.

Erik Spanberg reported the card companies understand it is important to gain a strong foothold with children moving forward. “The players association also favors a grass-roots approach. A recent test program provides card shops with starter sets provided by the players’ association for use with Boy Scout troop gatherings. The program emphasizes getting cards in front of children and explaining the various aspects of collecting and trading cards. So-called ‘pack wars’ create impromptu competitions to see who has the card featuring the tallest player or the one with the best batting average.”


At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is that kids are not interested in something low-tech as a "card" with information on it. They can just jump on the web and look it up - why bother with having some card.

It would be interesting to see how many kids play fantasy baseball online. And no, I dont mean us.

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Milne said...

I wonder how many kids play fantasy baseball online. That is a GREAT point. I don't know anything about raising kids, but isn't there a point where you don't want them on the computer all day? Playing fantasy baseball seems like the final straw. They might turn into "closest dorks" like other people we know.


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