In the world of sports cards there is definitely a hierarchy in terms of most to least important. In my mind here is the list:
1st – Baseball
2nd – Football
3rd – Basketball
4th – Hockey
5th – NASCAR
6th – MLS
The list doesn’t tell the whole story though. We all know that in the real world football is king. It dominates the headlines all season long. When colleges went through expansion, the only focus is on football. With only 16 games a season it is easy to plan into your schedule. It just is marketed perfectly for the everyday sports fan.
When you look at the hobby list I created, baseball is top dog and to be honest, the gap between baseball and football is immense. Card companies allowed the monopolies of the other sports to happen simply because the big bucks in the hobby come from the baseball side.
I find this interesting though. I mean the average sports fan is clearly more interested in football, but the average sports card fan is more interested in baseball. Both sports do a lot to promote the history (although baseball does a much better job), but baseball is king. I use myself as an example, I can’t get excited about a baseball prospect until he hits a minimum of AAA However in football, I’m following careers of guys in college getting pumped to see them at the next level. So you would think that I would go for a product featuring NFL rookies, instead of a Bowman draft picks and prospects set that contains 95% fluff. The thing is though I can’t wait for Bowman’s DPP set to come out each year.
I can’t explain why other than I think the NFL prospect cards suck. The best designs I saw were from Topps Magic set last year, a set I am sure they have already written off. The short print card in football kills it for me as well. Why do all the rookies have to be short printed? Take Topps regular issue set for football, the rookies are only pulled 1 per pack (if that), when they should be at least 2 per pack based on statistical breakdowns.
At some point the card companies have to see this right? They have to realize that it’s the designs and print runs that are killing football. As far as basketball and hockey is concerned, they will continue to fill that niche market. Collectors in general just can’t get pumped over those cards. NASCAR is a dying sport right now, even though their cards look cooler now more than ever. MLS is just a sport that doesn’t fit the card collector demographic. Until it becomes as mainstream as basketball or hockey, it will continue to face an uphill battle in the card world. Too bad, it’s level of play is getting better yearly.