What's the number one reason why some people stay away from the sports collectibles hobby? No, it's not the fact that some of our card conventions appear like a magnet for circus trash. No, it's not the fact that personal hygiene is apparently not a requirement for some baseball card dealers. No, it's not the fact that professionalism and customer service are seemingly not required either. It's not any of these things; it's the perception of the lack of integrity in our hobby.
Now I realize that sounds a bit harsh but, sarcasm aside, it is a real problem. When I talk to people outside the hobby, people with the financial means to make a difference in our industry, the first thing they want to talk about is the poor perception that haunts the very hobby we all love. Of course, I try to convince them that there are good people in our industry and things they can do to protect themselves against fraud, etc. Still, however, the fear is evident.
The good news is that there are good people and good companies in our industry, ones that have high integrity and a conscience. The bad news is, as long as the collectors (the ones spending all their hard-earned money) keep the bad guys afloat, the bad guys will always be around. Eventually, through education and by process of elimination, the individuals who lack integrity will be systematically eliminated but, in my opinion, that time couldn't arrive soon enough.
I am sick and tired of what I see every day in a hobby that I really enjoy. It's part of who I am and I will always be a collector at heart. I am tired of people promoting suspect grading services and avoiding legitimate ones when they have ulterior motives. I am tired of all the bashing between good companies. Why does one solid retail or auction company have to lower themselves to verbally bash a competitor just because the competitor is competing with them? No one wins in this situation.
Oh, I am far from done. I am tired of certain columnists in other hobby publications claiming to be good for the hobby when all they do is further the poor perception with their typed trash. I am tired of the respect handed out to certain hobby figures merely because they have "been around" awhile. There are some great hobby pioneers that are still with us today but there are other individuals who are so out of touch that they offer absolutely nothing to our industry other than bitterness because the hobby is moving on without them. Here's a quarter, call Dr. K (no, not Doc Gooden) and end it early.
Speaking of hobby publications, I am tired of seeing ads, time after time, featuring dealers who sell virtually nothing but counterfeit merchandise. I guess the rule must be "If the check clears, the ad gets printed." Finally, I am tired of people who take shots at good authentication companies merely because the good companies prevent them from taking advantage of buyers. Are reputable authenticators 100% accurate all of the time? Of course not, they are human but imagine what the hobby would be like without them.
Yeah, I know all of this sounds harsh but I assure you that it comes from the heart. Maybe some of you feel the same way and maybe some of you do not but I will tell you one thing, it's integrity that will take this hobby to the next level. Without it, no one else will want to play. We are making great progress but we still have a long way to go.