As the public health crisis continues to play out, the level of uncertainty in the hobby—and sports in general—has everyone wondering what the next week will bring.
We don’t have a lot of answers, but we have plenty of questions worth pondering.
Will the National Sports Collectors Convention and any other card shows be held in 2020? It would appear that sports won’t be played with fans until we have a vaccine or public health officials feel confident there’s no risk of large scale infection. Will anything happen over the next few months to once again permit public gatherings of any real size or will everything be shut down until next spring, at the earliest?
How long will it take before autograph guests feel comfortable being in close proximity to the public? Has the virus changed that landscape permanently or not?
How much will the situation impact companies that specialize in autograph signings and card shows built around autograph signings?
When current year trading card products begin to dry up, will breakers seek out older boxes? Will prices then increase for those boxes? If that happens, will the content of the break spots still be worth the price of participation?
The impact on prices for both modern and vintage sports cards and memorabilia seems to have been relatively minimal thus far. Will that continue?
Performance typically equals increased interest and value for cards of current athletes. If there are no more games for several months or more, how long will perceived values of popular players hold up?
How will card companies, dependent on a supply of signatures, deal with the loss of shows and other public events that allow them to gather large quantities of autographs at one time?
Some products have already been delayed. How long will those delays be and will some familiar brands be forced off the release calendar to avoid a glut on the market later in the year?
If the MLB season appears unlikely to open or is shut down at some point this spring, will there be any new products released after a certain date?
As the supply of new products grinds to a near halt in the coming days and weeks, what will the store shelves at retail outlets like Target, Walmart and Meijer look like by the middle of next month? Is it possible big box distributors have been holding onto products issued over the last few years and we’ll begin to see some of that emerge?
Already facing a huge backlog, when will PSA be able to resume full-scale grading and authentication and how will California’s shutdown impact turnaround times for collectors who have had items already sitting for weeks and months?
Will brick-and-mortar sports card shops without a strong online and/or social media following survive if they are unable to open by the end of next month or will the government’s programs allow them to stay afloat?
Will some embrace increased online sales so much and have so much success that they shutter their stores and stick with the web and social media to buy and sell?
Will card companies be able to obtain current photos of players if games are played later this year, but with no photographers or other media allowed?
This year’s NFL rookie class appears strong, with several potential new stars. How long will it take to acquire photos of players in their new uniforms?
Will some of the most promising prospects and rookies pick up where they left off when games resume—perhaps not until next year—or will some, unable to receive the needed coaching or not doing the right things —fall by the wayside?
CA Gov. Gavin Newsom calls sports and other large events “unlikely” this summer: “The prospect of mass gatherings is neglible at best until we get to herd immunity and get to a vaccine.”
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) April 14, 2020
While pro sports and local officials may at some point come up with a plan to allow games to take place without fans, will there be an impact on the interest in sports as a whole? Without a large, excited crowd as a backdrop, will people care as much? Sport is great theater, but can theater be great without the audience? How will the lack of visual buzz impact interest in sports collectibles?
Will we be so sports starved that when the games arrive, in any form, that the hobby will continue its strong growth as fans look for a tangible connection to the games in lieu of attending?
Should collectors be buying, buying a lot, selling or selling a lot…or not buying or selling at all?
Stimulus checks are expected to arrive this week. Will that mean an influx of cash into the hobby?
Will continued social distancing rules impact auction companies, who often meet clients at major shows or travel to obtain large collections?
What will happen to giveaway products like bobbleheads and trading cards that were already produced for NBA, NHL, MLB and other sports teams if the seasons don’t resume or are significantly shortened?
Several states have held out, not issuing ‘stay at home’ orders and keeping large plants in operation. Some states are now paying the price with more COVID cases being reported in areas with smaller population. Will their recovery now be extended, causing longer term shutdowns for shows and shops in those areas?
Everyone wants sports back, but would jumping the gun could put us all–including the hobby–in an even tougher spot? We could learn a thing or two from South Korea, says Josh Lindblom, who just spent five years pitching there before signing with Milwaukee.
Sadly, of the 24,000+ people in the U.S. who have lost their lives from the virus, how many were collectors or associated with the hobby in some way?
One question we can answer is, how much patience will we need in the weeks and months to come before sports and the hobby get back to normal for everyone?