A while ago, an interesting decision was made to exclude Leaf from all Sports Card Industry Summit participation, citing (lack of) licensing as the reason. Leaf has since sued for breach of contract. Although its true that Leaf does not have licensing, something else is going down. To be honest, I don’t see a reason to do this, as Leaf products are regularly bought and sold by the people attending the event. Why not allow them the time to hear the presentation that Brian Gray is likely to give? I can expect that the subject matter of his presentations and muck raking approach is a big reason certain people do not want him and Leaf to attend, but I don’t think it’s a big deal – at least from a collector perspective.
Regardless of their intent, Leaf has made some awesome cards this year:
I have never been a fan of the industry summit, even though I know there are a lot of shop owners and dealers out there that think it’s the most important event of the year. I think that the educational portions of the event is likely helpful for SOME of the shop owners that go, but I doubt its as effective as it could be. Many of the attendees from personal recounts sent to me, just go to get the ridiculous types of swag given out, and rarely use the event for networking and education. Others, I know treat it much differently, and to them it is still valuable.
Leaf, under Gray’s tutelage, has become a player in a very exclusive game. Their products have had significant success over the years, and have produced some VERY cool products along the way.
Does Gray’s success upset the apple cart that Topps, Panini and Upper Deck enjoy with league and NCAA licenses? Potentially – although he would have to act on a lot of the programs he is threatening. At that point, business could get more difficult for them, and that is why I do see why the companies see Leaf as a threat. If licensed companies are impacted by Leaf’s imposing on their turf, then it could hurt collectors as well. Is it a significant threat at this point? Probably not even close, but enough to get 10 “people” to push for him to get thrown out of the summit.
I don’t even think that is the most hypocritical point here. There has yet to be any confirmation that other unlicensed companies were removed from participation as well, and though that could still come, it seems very fishy. This is not a good move by the summit, even under pressure from the other individuals, as Brian has enough of a following to make some noise. That noise may not be able to hurt the manufacturers even in the slightest, but it can impact the way summit attendees see the point of the event.
Card companies do not react well to threats, no matter how small. Back in 2010, I received press credentials to go to an event that directly impacts the hobby. Thanks to some influence from similar individuals, those credentials were revoked. Considering how few people read this site, it only goes to show how much fear can be had from a tiny, small potatoes kind of guy. This is a very similar situation, and censorship in that matter should not be taken lightly. I don’t necessarily agree with everything Brian preaches, but I do think he deserves a voice – no matter how controversial that voice may be. This is a dwindling industry that doesn’t have the luxury to blackball people that contribute sellable product to store shelves. There are too few of those types of companies left.
Again, this is only from a collector perspective, and from someone that really isn’t privy to some of the lasting effects that Leaf may have on the industry. Until those lasting effects are made public, this all seems like a poorly executed witch hunt. Shame on them.