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Sports Collectibles Mean Big Bucks For Retailers and Individuals Alike
There is no doubt that the sport generates a lot of money in the United States. One need only look at the salaries of top professional players or the attendance at major sporting events to realize that there is lots and lots of money changing hands.
The NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB generate approximately $11 billion in annual revenue, and that’s after expenses that include paying their average players between $1.25 million (the low end of the National Football League) and nearly $5 million for the average player. in the National Basketball Association.
Add to that the $52 billion spent each year in the United States on sports equipment and $57 billion on athletic apparel and footwear, and the money just keeps piling up. Whichever resource you use to define the global sports market, the numbers are staggering. A reasonable estimate of the money sports bring to our American economy is $425 billion a year.
So it should come as no surprise to learn that when it comes to sports memorabilia and sports collectibles, there’s also money to be made. From sports franchises and giant retailers to individuals selling online, there are people making money from sports collectibles every day.
The great thing about sports collectibles is that their popularity crosses the line between professional, amateur, and collegiate sports. Fans buy miniature Oklahoma Sooners football helmets, hockey pucks autographed by professional stars and virtually anything with the logo of their favorite football or baseball team. Tiger Woods is a professional athlete without a team, but every day you’ll find more than 3,000 items on eBay related to him, and his personal line of golf apparel, the Tiger Woods Collection, fetches hundreds of millions every year.
Since there are no hard numbers associated specifically with sports collectibles, one can only assume that individuals, online and retail stores, large corporations and sports franchises in the sports memorabilia sector all earn money. You can also assume that the numbers keep growing.
Obviously, the personal popularity of a particular athlete or the rise and fall of a particular team’s success makes a difference in the value of collectibles.
When Lance Armstrong was still racing and winning the Tour de France, his merchandise was selling like hotcakes. While still popular today within the cycling community, Lance merchandise no longer moves the way it once did. The same can be said for fallen stars like former Atlanta Falcon star Michael Vick, whose merchandise has been pulled from store shelves. Today it goes for pennies on the dollar on eBay.
So what are the trends in sports collectibles and can people make money collecting? Trends are constantly changing, experts say. The National Basketball Association reports that sales of NBA Hardwood Classics jerseys have tripled over the past three years. NASCAR is the fastest growing source of sports revenue as the popularity of the sport has spread across the country.
Many online retail stores have the unique advantage of being able to move quickly and capitalize on sports team wins and popularity. When a team wins the Super Bowl or an NBA World Championship, sales of that team’s merchandise and collectibles skyrocket. Online retailers can often move much faster than their brick-and-mortar counterparts, quickly releasing hot merchandise online and cashing in on strike while the fire is hot.
Brett Favre’s recent trade from Green Bay to the New York Jets led to an almost immediate posting of Favre merchandise on online retail sites. From 24-karat gold New York Jets or NFL coins to all-new Jets “#4” jerseys, sales were immediately fast.
What drives the collectibles and sports memorabilia industry the most is the breadth and depth of the field. Street & Smith Sports Business Journal recently concluded that fans spend the same amount annually on NFL-licensed merchandise as they do on college-licensed merchandise, with the two bringing in more than $2.5 billion a year.
Sports collectibles mean something to the person who buys them. Whether you pay $20 for a ball cap licensed for your favorite MLB team or $100 for an authentic helmet with your favorite NFL team logo, fans buy sports merchandise and memorabilia because they love their team and want to be part of something they see. as very special.
Collecting sports memorabilia is a lot like collecting works of art. People do it more because they like what they’re buying, not so much because they expect its value to go up. Although collectibles, and even sporting goods that no one considered collectibles at the time, can certainly appreciate.
In 1893, when a nine-man hockey team from Montreal won the first Stanley Cup, no one thought to save a jersey. There are vintage photos that show the jerseys, but none have ever surfaced. According to sports experts, if one of the jerseys turns up, it could fetch up to $400,000, most likely to the Hockey Hall of Fame curators in Toronto.
So, with the dreams of appreciation and the love of sport working in its favor, sports collectibles will remain big business, just like the sports they celebrate. In fact, officially licensed merchandise from American professional sports teams and colleges will bring in more than $10 billion this year to leagues and retailers lucky enough to be a part of this hot industry.
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