In and of itself, that’s not a bad thing, and all sports go through ebbs and flows depending on rulesets and current stars.
However, there is some cause for concern within the baseball card market, especially when coupled with a decline in TV audiences, as well as fewer fans attending games on average.
Here are our thoughts about the current state of baseball, as well as what it means for the hobby.
Baseball – An Audience In Decline?
In 2019, for the first time in 15 years, total baseball game attendance dropped below 70 million, while 17 teams experienced a decline in 2018.
This trend has continued despite people being stuck indoors for long periods in 2020. Maury Brown reports for Forbes;
“Compared to 2019, the last full 162 game season, the 29 regional sports networks measured by Nielsen saw a drop of -12%.”
We’ve mentioned that the average age of baseball fans is skewed towards older audiences. Is there a chance that fans could dry up completely in the long run?
Everything from longer games, high concession prices, and poor marketing strategies have been cited as possible explanations for why baseball is less popular as of 2021.
Then there’s the pandemic, and questions as to whether it has changed the landscape for fans as money tends to be tighter. (A lack of fans at games could also be an explanation for lower TV audiences.)
Whatever the case, it hasn’t translated to a lull in baseball card prices as of yet. We still think that it’s worth keeping an eye on, for reasons we’ll get into below.
What does Elvis have to do with anything?
Well, Elvis memorabilia has been plummeting in value for years. In 2018, the Guardian reported;
“The singer’s You’ll Never Walk Alone LP was worth £400 in the 2012 Rare Record Guide, but is valued at £150 in the 2018 edition. These are indicative of a general trend. “If you try to sell any Elvis record that could easily have sold for £15-£20 each in the 1980s today, you can hardly give them away,” says Red, who runs an online Elvis vinyl store.”
It’s a trend which has continued in the present day. Take the Official Elvis Fan Club in the UK. Numbers have declined drastically, to the point where the owner is unable to sell as it didn’t reach his estimate;
“The bidding reached only £32,000 — nowhere near the estimate of £50,000 to £100,000.”
As for the fan club itself;
“At its peak, soon after Elvis’s death in 1977, the club had 36,000 members. Now, there are just 3,000.”
The point is, if your audience skews towards the elderly, there’s a chance that they could all pass away before you sell.
Elvis has been long dead, and it’s foolish to compare a musician to a sport. However, it’s a good example of how collectibles can fall in value quickly if supply begins to exceed demand.
Baseball and Elvis – Why Fans Matter For The Collecting Hobby
It’s a simple concept. Without enough fans, baseball cards will fail to be a viable hobby in the long term. This will lead to prices rapidly falling, and a potential bubble burst.
After all, there’s nothing more important than the fans themselves, especially when trying to ensure that a sport stays relevant with future generations.
It’s true that there’s no real point in comparing Elvis and baseball as they’re so different, but other sports like wrestling and boxing have faded into obscurity following a decline in mainstream appeal.
You’ll have to gauge whether or not baseball can make a resurgence in the next decade, as it’ll probably have an impact on the amount of potential card collectors too.