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Athlete Involvement & Impacts on the Hobby

Athlete Involvement & Impacts on the Hobby

Over the past few years, there have been more and more images of athletes collecting or showcasing their collector status, whether through a Fanatics or PSA ad or their involvement with breaking. They have a significant impact not just on their sport but on the future of this hobby. Has there been a positive impact? From my recent experience and what we see, signs are showing its effects so far. 

Celebrity Card Breaks Charity Break

Monday Night, Celebrities and Cardbreaks hosted their Memorial Day Football Break, supporting the Pat Tilman Foundation featuring Alex (ArmyATC22) and Jase Bowen (Co-Owner of Celebrities and Cardbreaks and Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect). We had the chance to be part of the fun as representatives for Stand Up Displays, a giveaway sponsor. It was great to catch up with some friends in the hobby, Cole from Graybo’s and Ryan (iSawSasquatch.) 

It was great to meet Jase, chat about the hobby, see his collection, and hear about his passion for baseball. He believes in the growth of the hobby and baseball with his investment in starting Celebrities and Cardbreaks, a breaking company that has been bridging the gap between athlete and the hobby. We not only heard his story, but he wanted to learn more about our collecting journey, our love of baseball, and why we love this community. We are excited to see him again and catch up when he comes to our hometown this summer. 

This event was centered around the release of their football breaks starting up. Jase and Alex opened a case of 2024 Prizm Optics Blasters. It was fun to watch Jase (if you didn’t know he was committed to playing football at Michigan) share his passion for collecting, answering questions for the community, and breaking! It was also amazing to see our friend Alex, an Army Veteran, talk about the Pat Tilman Foundation and to see them come together for that great cause. We learned so much from Jase, the Celebrities and Cardbreaks team, and overall, we had a great time. 

Where else have athletes made an appearance in the hobby?

Last night, Celebrities and Cardbreaks weren’t the only ones hosting an athlete on their stream. Filthbomb Breaks had Spencer Jones as part of their stream. He answered questions for the community and signed autographs as well. It was great to watch some of that back to hear his insight and learn some fun facts about him!

One group we all know is pulling out all the stops with its athletes: Topps and its parent company, Fanatics. Over the last year, Fanatics has put more marketing dollars into the collector space than ever with buyback program commercials and videos about products. It has been hosting major events across the country with Fanatics Exclusive athletes and even decided it’s time to put on a major sports “Comic-Con” style show for collectors and sports fans. Fanatics is putting its money where its mouth is. 

Over the last year, we have seen people like breakers bringing athletes on to talk about their craft and breaking products. Some companies within the industry, like PSA, have exclusive athletes like Bobby Witt Jr. (a collector) showcasing his most recent graded cards or doing crazy stuff like playing a game with cards in his pocket. So much effort is being put in on different sides of the aisle. But the real question is, are we growing the hobby for good?

Is this helping grow the hobby, or is it just a mirage? 

You can analyze this from an analytical perspective, considering sales and business growth, but I want to take a step back as a collector and share with you what I see big picture-wise. 

First, the card show scene. Local and regional shows have been popping up nationwide, from a local card show in our community that hosts 100 tables to the Burbank Card Show, which has nearly 900 tables in just over one year. That doesn’t account for the National, which had its largest attendance in 43 years last year. Not to mention that most of these shows are packed most of the time.

The second thing is local card shops in communities across the country. It hasn’t been a week since I hadn’t heard of a new local card shop opening or expanding to a new location. These have ranged from small mom-and-pop shop-sized stores to CardHQ opening one of the largest card shops in the country. The hobby footprint is growing across the country. 

The last thing I have noticed is that even though the value of cards has flattened out since 2020, sales volumes are up. This means more cards are being sold on sites like eBay, new selling platforms are coming online, and more transitions are happening than ever before at card shows. 

Now, what does this have to do with the athletes’ impact? Investment companies are putting in, and the athletes' joining or showcasing their love for the hobby has positively impacted us and will continue to do so. If fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates see someone like Jase Bowen collecting cards, they might be interested in what he is doing, which brings in a new collector. If we, as collectors and athletes, continue to grow together, build off this positivity, engage with fans, and share more, only good things will come. 

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” - Henry Ford.


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