The Top 3 Sports Cards Trends From 2020 That Will Not Continue In 2021

Edward Johnson
4 min readDec 31, 2020
Project 2020 baseball cards designed by Sophia Chang, a New Yorker and champion in the art, design and streetwear community

A recent Forbes article https://bit.ly/2WZ2Fh hailed “The Top 3 Sports Cards Trends From 2020 That Will Continue In 2021”

I would disagree with the article because 2020 was a year like no other.

But right now in December more and more “ordinary” people are looking at sports cards as short-term investments, and forgetting that sports cards collecting is still a “hobby” where actual expertise still needs elapsed time to acquire. In short, this can be high-risk investing which can lead to money being lost.

The Gary Vee effect, the idea that whatever Gary predicts will actually happen, only works if you have enough money to stay near the top of the pyramid of his hypnotized followers.

Let’s back up a bit.

When Gary V discovered his love of trading cards back in the 1980s, the world was very different. Kids and teenagers actually “traded” cards. They experienced a huge dopamine hit by ripping open a pack of “wax” and seeing one of the stars players. They didn’t have mobile phone, the internet and constant dopamine.

Chasing rookie cards in the 80s and 90s wasn’t a thing because the multiple card producers flooded the markets to more than meet demand. Cards cost pennies, often less than the stick of gum in the foil wraps. Truly high value cards were out of the reach of the masses.

Fast forward to 2020. Sports cards are produced by licenced manufacturers and deliberately released in limited retail supplies. Packs of sports cards in hobby boxes, or “blaster packs” don’t even make it to the shelves of the Walmarts, Target or big box stores, because the sneakerhead culture has, like a virus, infected the sports card “hobby”. So just like Yeezys, if you are not in line hours before the store opens and the sports card stock arrives, then you won’t get anything at all.

And if you don’t have a store employee insider reserving you a couple of packs at retail price, then prepare to pay 4X for a piece of a break.

Let’s face it Gary V, this sports cards thing isn’t for kids anymore.

On a positive note, the Topps Project 2020 collection, featuring 20 different artists each producing 20 premium cards versions of iconic baseball rookie cards (https://www.topps.com/archive/project-2020-archive.html) has helped to shine a light on a whole slam of custom art sports card interest, which is a trend I believe will continue.

And artists like Blake Jamieson, was exemplary in pulling other artists into the forefront with his frequent live painting sessions, giveaways and artist interviews. Cultural icons like DJ Skee interviewed the artists live to sports, hiphop and music audiences.

The Project itself, a collectors marathon of two or three $20 sports cards issued every business day for nine months, has been fuelled by the pandemic government bailout cheques, and people with too much time on their hands. Topps somehow missed the inclusive direction of today’s generational discord and nominated just one solitary female artist, Sophia Chang, within the twenty. (Disclaimer: I have collected her complete 2020 set)

Early on in 2020, the Topps Project 2020 concept was hijacked with artists like the jeweller Ben Baller, a divisive figure and master street hustler, who was able to sell $1000 gold plated dollar bill counters to the masses who can’t afford enough dollar bills to make the machines function. Baller hustled his followers throughout the year, but the governmental lockdowns for all led to a buying/flipping peak craze hititng over 99,000 cards of a single iconic Ken Griffey Jr, (below) a number which was never surpassed after May.

There was also the “World’s worst baseball card”, (ref: https://bit.ly/34ZADXr), the soon-to-be critically acclaimed Keith Shore version of Bob Gibson’s rookie card (1959 Topps Baseball #514)

The Forbes article mentions “Family Connections”as the final trend generated by the 2020 Sports Card collecting explosion. I’d like to agree with that, it was only valid in the context of no fans being allowed in stadiums and being given “free” government money for complying with the “Stay Home” messages forced families to stay together come hell or high water.

Surely with the 2021 rollout of vaccines and the gradual shift to normality in the entertainment, dining and sports sectors , family members will start to mix more with their peer groups and have less excuses to stay with each other.

Sports and art have been interwoven for centuries.

The fact that not even a pandemic could separate them brings optimism for the future.

P.S. In late 2020 Topps issued limited numbered large format artist proof versions of ninety-four of the four hundred Project 2020 cards, each individually signed by the artists, further bridging the gap between art collectors and sports card collectors.

This article is not meant as regulatory investment advice. Buy and sell your cards as you wish, but also try to enjoy them, and the reasons for collecting.

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Edward Johnson

Ikinique Ltd — Passionate about data science, mentorship, fintech, blockchain, Hyperledger, AI, Ethics ,…Agile… MIT Future Commerce…#IKEAization