March 30, 2012

National Convention director Mike Berkus comments on the CBS Sunday Morning story, the death of baseball cards - Part 4

After reading this story, scroll down to access three previous blog posts on this subject, including a link to the CBS video.

Mike Berkus, California

Director of the National Sports Collectors Convention

I guess the CBS story depicts Green Berets at an Old Soldiers Home? A bit of hazy journalism. Using Alan Rosen and Mike Gordon from our hobby is not representative of today's industry. A 30 minute visit to the recent Industry Summit conference would have reflected a totally different picture.

The story mix was confusing as well. Kids and cards, then cards and values, rundown old meeting hall? Kids, admittedly we have lost them to the internet, were never the stimulus for high ticket key cards, no more than in the coin, comic, stamp, or vintage toys hobbies. Of course, CBS might not have had more interest than selling a negative piece. I would have expected a higher level of reporting, i.e. card company, auction house, or even (might I say) the National.

I have had a number of emails and calls concerning the CBS piece. I read the print and then watched the show. Unfortunately, filming a piece on our hobby at the local Parsippany, NJ show and consider who was interviewed, skewed the content towards the negative impact that CBS was shooting for. Bad news sells. I likened this to televising a political stop in downtown Nowhereville, in a remote corner of Montana (no offense Montana), and then ignoring a photo op of the same politician at their annual National Convention.

The piece could thus be titled "no one cares who becomes president because only 14 people came to see the candidate". Of course, since the report was split between "no kids" and "showing adults and vintage cards", even I could not follow their script. Now if I were to do an intelligent piece on kids and cards, I might want to include a couple of manufacturers? As for vintage cards, the tremendous auction results would speak for themselves.

A forgotten factor was overtly ignored. Even when kids were climbing over each other to collect in the early 1990s, they were not bidding on 1952 Topps Mantles in PSA 8 nor sets of T-206s. In other words, the real valuable cards, coins, stamps, comics, toys, etc. were never part of a kid's hobby needs. If you wanted to look at comic books and kids, would you have been surprised that none of the top 500 bids (or any), in the recent Heritage comic auction, came from a child? Of course not, and no hobby has ever witnessed kids participating in big ticket sales.

What we do all agree on - how can cardboard tie itself back into a kid's love of a sport?

So hello CBS, yes sports cards are evolving and to what end this evolution may lead is no more abnormal than stuffed animals. Oh, you mean Beanie Babies? No, I mean stuffed animals. I have learned to ignore the media pieces on sensationalism. They never get it right and that includes when they were all aglow over how valuable cards were (1980s and 1990s). Still got it wrong and sent a ton of people into a cardboard world expecting to make fortunes.

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