Recently, Tuff Stuff has taken it upon themselves to go over what readers think is wrong with the hobby and to look for possible solutions. I think its a bold step, but in my opinion, a generally horrible idea in this format. First, the average reader has no fucking clue as to what is truly the more IMPORTANT bad things, and that will lead to a pretty boring list. Second, half the major problems in the hobby stem from things the magazine does themselves. Anyways, here is what their list will probably be, followed by mine.
TUFF STUFF PROJECTED LIST (not in order of importance):
1) Redemptions – I have said it before, its more the players than the companies that have problems with redemptions. If the players dont sign, the cards cant go out. I think the expectations set by the company, replacements for unsigned cards as well as lack of updates are the bigger problems. I will give kudos to Topps for publicizing their redemption updates via twitter.
2) Number of products – I cant tell you how much I hate it when people say that product variety is a problem. There are five million car companies, but no one ever complains that they have too many choices. Number of products as a complaint is shit. Just buy what you want and shut up.
3) Lack of kids/cost of boxes – Again kids havent been the primary focus of the hobby since the late 80s, and yet people think they are the answer to everyone’s problems. Complete crap. As that relates to the cost of boxes, its easy to blame the companies again, but the players are just as much to blame. There are still a lot of lower end products that are good, and yet the variety thing comes into play again. Yes, there are very costly products, but they dont account for everything.
4) Fake patches/cards/autos – I agree with this one, but the only solution is a photo database that is easily accessible to everyone. There are a few users who have taken it upon themselves to take care of this themselves, but it isnt perfect.
5) Some sort of eBay complaint – eBay sucks at doing some things, but is great about others. I will say that I would take eBay the way it is any day than having to buy singles at shows or at stores.
MY LIST (not in order of importance):
1) Price Guides – There is no reason for a price guide, especially one that is run by people making money off the hobby. The guides out there present unrealistic expectations of value, and cause more problems than they solve. Their existence continues to show that this hobby is more about vanity and money than about fun.
2) Boring concepts / Gimmicks – This hobby has spiraled into a snoozefest of products that are not designed well and feature horrible concepts and themes. Its time to get a better design team in there that focuses more about a good looking product. No more rehashes, no more copycatting.
3) Beckett – Their arrogance of their place in the hobby, as well as the fact that they serve more as an ad vehicle rather than an objective source is detrimental to the people that still follow them. Beckett as a group is underhanded, vindictive, and ethically objectionable, and has yet to provide a worthwhile contribution to the hobby. They also have a public relationship with a card company that breaks all sorts of moral rules.
4) Grading/Authentication – there is no need for it, especially by humans. Besides being completely subjective and arbitrary, it is commonly used as a publicity machine as well as a way to please large customers. On top of all of this, Beckett sells their own graded cards. As for the authentication, there are so many stories of people sending in IP autos they themselves have gotten and not getting auth. Just shows that humans are just that, human.
5) Complacency of the companies towards Fake autos/Fake Patches – There hasnt been much done to counteract the criminal empire created by thieves on eBay. Ebay wont do anything, the card companies wont do anything, and the collectors only have so much of a voice. Until a bigger focus is made policy, we will continue to be victims of the great douches of the hobby.
6) Boxes for Review – Again, this whole practice solves absolutely nothing, and creates a ton of problems. There are currently more than 50 different groups of people who receive free product the companies. More than half hold a vested interest in the product’s success. That means, ad money, publicity, reviews, etc. This is not just for highly produced stuff, but also the very limited products too. Beckett received 4 boxes of 2009-10 Exquisite Basketball. That is close to 2400 retail dollars of swag. Completely unacceptable considering that they price cards for over 50% of the uniformed hobby.
7) Lack of communication – Card companies are about as transparent as a lead door in this industry. There is rarely any info transmitted that actually gives collectors what they want, and that needs to stop. There needs to be better websites, more feedback, and more involvement with the collecting public. Talk to the boards instead of with Beckett.
8) Brand/Player/Sport exclusive contracts – there is nothing worse for collectors than exclusive anything. This should be at the top of everyone’s list. The fact that there is only one NBA license and only one MLB license is ridiculous. It is also ridiculous that players like Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, Jeter, Griffey, A-Rod, Pujols and company are only able to sign for one brand. That is a poor situation. Look at the NFL, there is no exclusives and it is one of the best places to start a player collection. So many choices, and that is a great thing!
In all reality, there could be a huge economic disaster, worse than the last few years, and the hobby would still survive. People like to collect shit. That will always be a given. The industry part may fall by the wayside, but cards will always be a commodity. So, to put together a list like this is easy, but pretty much ineffective. The effective part comes from the buying public, as they need to put their money where their mouth is. I have been practicing this for the last few years, only buying the stuff I like, instead of wasting my money on stuff that is just there, or buying because I am bored. As a result, I have a collection to be proud of, rather than a hoarded mess of cards I have no connection to. Hopefully others will follow suit and not give their money to products and company that shouldnt get it.