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Hobby Fatigue and the Changing Landscape of Card Collecting

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

In the vibrant world of card collecting, where enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds converge to share their passion for collectible cards, there's a phenomenon known as "hobby fatigue" that's been making waves in recent years. Contrary to what the term might imply, it's not about growing tired of the cards themselves or the act of collecting. Instead, it's a weariness that stems from the relentless influence of social media, the swarm of influencers, and the non-stop podcast chatter that surrounds the hobby.


Hobby fatigue represents a shift in focus, where the sheer joy of collecting and discovering those hidden treasures gets buried beneath the noise of the digital world. For many, the essence of aimlessly wandering into a card shop or a collector's show, scouting for that one card that would make their day, has been replaced by the endless scroll of digital platforms. It's the nostalgia of the days when you saved up your pocket money to buy a few packs and excitedly hoped to unveil something extraordinary from within.


But today, amidst the constant deluge of content creators, the endless parade of influencers vying for attention, and the incessant debates on social media, the simplicity of collecting seems to be fading into the background. The genuine thrill of holding a rare card in your hand gets overshadowed by the race to one-up each other in creating memes and shocking hot takes.


To add context to the hobby fatigue phenomenon, it's worth looking at some statistics. The trading card market has witnessed explosive growth in recent years, fueled in part by speculative investing, with some cards selling for astronomical prices, this boom has had unintended consequences.The Sports Trading Card market has proven itself to be a thriving industry, with significant growth observed in recent years. In 2022, the market's value reached an impressive USD 637.53 million, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Projections indicate that the market will continue to expand, boasting a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 3.14% during the forecast period, ultimately surging to an estimated USD 767.3 million by 2028.


In fact, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the trading card market experienced a significant boom. According to eBay's data, in 2020, they saw a 142% year-over-year increase in trading card sales on their platform. And it wasn't just limited to online marketplaces. Card shops and shows saw a surge in interest as well. People turned to collecting as a form of entertainment and investment during lockdowns.


However, this booming market brought with it a wave of newcomers, some driven by profit rather than passion. It led to a surge in content creation, as enthusiasts flocked to social media platforms and podcasts to share their insights and, often, to capitalize on the growing interest.


Further, while the hobby has seen increased growth and thus more diversity, it remains an uncomfortable space for women and non-white individuals. Efforts to promote inclusivity are ongoing, but challenges persist. Many collectors, especially those from underrepresented groups, continue to face bias, stereotypes, and exclusion within the community. The need for a more inclusive and welcoming environment is a crucial aspect of the hobby's transformation.


In the midst of these changes, there is a yearning for a return to the roots of collecting, where the focus is on the cards themselves rather than trying to outshine each other with memes and hot takes. Collectors long for a return to the days when Instagram feeds were filled with excited discussions about card pickups and impressive collections.


If you are feeling a lack of interest in a space you were passionate about, perhaps unplug for a while. Hobby fatigue is not a sign of a declining interest in card collecting. It's a reflection of the shifting dynamics within the community. As collectors grapple with the digital age's complexities, there's a shared sentiment that a return to the heart of collecting, the cards themselves, is overdue. The future of the hobby may well be determined by how the community navigates this evolving landscape, rediscovering the pure joy of collecting along the way while working towards a more inclusive and diverse community


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