How the Sports Card Market has drastically increased due to the pandemic


Photo credit: Ryan Hudson

At the start of the pandemic, many people were in shock at how every major sports league immediately shut down. Sports fans of all kinds were trying to recapture the sports feeling in any way possible. For many of them, they sought sports cards to fill the void, leading to the “biggest boom in sports card market history” according to ESPN. Although there have been huge rises in prices for cards in every single sport, I will be looking at the changes in the basketball card market. This is due to the NBA already successfully restarting and finishing their season within a bubble, so it shows complete season trends. 

On March 11, the NBA indefinitely suspended the season for at least 30 days after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the tip-off of the Jazz–Thunder game in Oklahoma City. This started a chain reaction where every American sports league suspended their season. However, this also led to many NBA fans craving that sports feeling, pushing them into the card market. As pre-Corona investors have explained in Sportingnews, “It [the market] has been insane”. Many new collectors and investors that have just entered the hobby, yet don’t fully understand it, so they buy overpriced cards or cards that will eventually have little to no value. This has led to many veteran collectors taking huge benefits. Another major way the market has boomed is due to the low supply and high demand. To better understand, in 2017, a 2017 Panini Prizm hobby box went for around $200-$300 depending on if you bought retail or second-hand. That exact same box now goes for $2.8k. This is also due to the emergence of the superstar rookies out of that class. Single cards such as Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo have all increased in price throughout the suspension and continuation for various reasons. Kobe’s price absolutely skyrocketed due to his passing in a tragic helicopter crash that killed his 9-year-old daughter and 7 others. To many people, Kobe was an icon and their hero. This auto rookie card of his went for $1k in 2019 and now $6.5k in 2020. But it’s not just the hall of fame players, all players from rookies to vets have seen a huge price increase.   

The card market continues to grow, even though it’s the NBA offseason, mainly because of the start of the NFL season. But this is good news for both casual collectors in the hobby and big investors. Bothell marketing teacher Mrs. Brust says, “The market of every type of good, including cards, should continue to see an increase even if it isn’t as big. We should see it grow for a while longer, at least until we’re back to ‘normal’, which could be for a couple of months or even years. It all just depends and we’ll have to wait and see”. Many kids at Bothell have become more interested and invested in the card market, including Boyd Crumbaugh (‘21) who says, “The market is very good right now, you should probably sell right now if you have expensive cards.” He’s more of a passive seller so he would take a huge profit instead of risking for more. 

The card market is a fast-growing part of the sports world now and it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon.  The hobby has seen growth like never before, and investors predict that it will just keep climbing. With more and more people, including kids at Bothell, joining the hobby it will continue to take strides in the market all while being another fun way to be a part of your favorite sport.

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