You hear a lot about the importance of “keeping the kids interested” when industry leaders and dealers talk about the future. Often, though, it seems to come from a business perspective. How will the hobby survive if the kids don’t collect? How will shops stay in business if the younger generation loses interest?
It turns out there might be something to that, but the best reasons for turning kids into collectors probably has less to do with dollars and cents and more to do with a variety of other things that are far more important.
I read an interesting article in Coin Week magazine about how kids who collected coins seem to turn into more educated and more successful adults than those who didn’t collect anything at all. The research wasn’t scientific, but it raises a number of points that probably resonate with adults who became–or still are–card collectors.
Having a collection of something teaches a lot of skills that wind up being pretty useful in higher education and in adult life. Not that every kid who buys a few packs has a leg up on his classmates whose parents may have Harvard on their radar, but there are clearly good things inside of those packs beyond a potential autograph or “game used relic”.
Collecting coins or cards or stamps or something along those lines teach a lot of skills that we all utilize as we get older.
- Organization: Sorting and storing. What better way to learn how to bring a little order to your life than boxes of numbered cards featuring players of a finite number of teams?
- Math: Most adult collectors learned more about addition, subtraction, multiplication and division via the back of a card than a month of arithmetic lessons.
- Value of money: Give a baseball fan $10 and send him into the store. Chances are the first thing he’s figuring out is how many packs he can buy. Young collectors also learn that different things have different values based on different factors. Supply and demand is one of those lessons.
- Appreciation of history: Whether it’s learning about vintage cards or finding a Mickey Mantle reprint, kids learn that there were important people around long before they were born.
- Role models: You can say that players don’t make great role models. Fact is, kids who love sports will naturally gravitate toward athletes. What’s wrong with following someone who is dedicated and successful. Of course, picking the right role model is key.
- How to deal with people. Kids who collect cards learn how to deal with the shop owners or show vendors who sell. Trade and they learn how to compromise and interact with their peers and learn the art of the fair trade.
- Evaluating quality. Comparing various brands or card grades can help develop the ability to distinguish between tangible items that may look the same, but really aren’t.
- Relaxation. Like watching mom or dad read the Sunday paper or a good book, kids who collect cards learn to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures.
- Establishing bonds. Moms and dads are part of adult collectors’ memories in a lot of ways, but having the shared experience of traveling to places where cards or sold and opening packs or sitting at the kitchen table sorting cards will stick with them a long time. They’ll likely pass those experiences on to their own kids.
You could probably add more to the list based on your own memories. Today’s kids might even learn a little about technology thanks to the online components now being introduced to trading cards.
The fact that so many adults stuck with their childhood hobby or picked it up again is evidence that we had great memories of buying and trading as kids. The fringe benefits that may come with it are just icing on the cake.