Taking My Hacks

Respecting What Came Before You

Joe Orlando

Respect. It's something that matters to most of us, although the term itself means different things to different people. We can disagree with someone and still respect them. We can dislike aspects of another and still offer them a level of respect. In today's society, does the word itself mean or represent what it used to? Maybe I'm just old fashioned in my thinking, but it feels like showing respect is becoming a lost art.

Here's why.

We are living in an era where some people are more interested in disrespecting the past than appreciating what came before them. The past isn't perfect, but neither is the present. Nothing is, but there's so much focus on picking apart prior generations that, in some cases, there seems to be a movement to either rewrite history or erase it altogether.

Personally, I enjoy history. I like delving into everything "past" from sports to movies to art. I might be wrong, but it seems like younger generations don't feel the same way ... they tend not to have the same passion for the past that people like me do. Today, that lack of sentiment is on full display with many active athletes. It's rare that I hear about a current athlete who not only understands the history of their sport but appreciates the past as well.

When I do hear an athlete talk about history, it's a breath of fresh air. They articulate an understanding about who paved the way for them. The effort made in learning about the heritage of their sport is a clear indication of how much they appreciate their good fortune today. You can hear it in their voice. They understand that none of what they have today would be possible without the people who laid the foundation long before they arrived on the scene.

This brings me to the hobby. Over the past several years, some well-known individuals and some not-so-well-known individuals from our industry have unfortunately passed away - pioneers who helped take our hobby from a niche endeavor to a nationwide phenomenon over the last few decades. In other words, had it not been for the efforts of these people, who knows where our hobby would be today. Many of them were grinding it out at tiny baseball card shows across the country, sacrificing time with their families to make ends meet.

Today, in the world of the Internet, smart phones and immediate gratification, we tend to forget that. I have a hard time remembering what it was like before cell phones. If I wanted my parents to pick me up after a movie or playing video games at an arcade, I had to find a pay phone like everyone else.

In some ways, it feels like yesterday, but it also feels like a million years ago. Technology has made our quality of life so much better in certain ways. Our predecessors, those who laid the early foundation for our hobby, didn't have that luxury.

We can reach millions of people with a push of a button today. Spreading information, good or bad, is so easy. If you were a dealer in the 1970s or 1980s, however, the way to grow your business was to roll up your sleeves and build relationships the old-fashioned way ... by talking to them one at a time. While this may sound inefficient and almost laughable today, that effort deserves our respect.

What I'd like everyone to do out there is to take a moment and remember those who helped get you started in this hobby, from family members to dealers to fellow collectors ... those who are no longer with us. Better yet, for those who are still here, let them know how much you appreciate what they've done so you and I can enjoy this wonderful hobby. It's not about requiring perfection or agreeing with everything they said or did; it's just about respecting what came before you. I know I do.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
President & CEO
Collectors Universe, Inc.