The ESPN Effect: Documentaries creating price increase on sports card industry

ESPN documentaries about Michael Jordan and Mark McGwire are raising sports card prices as interest in the players increase. See by how much.

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ESPN The Last Dance Documentary Pushes Michael Jordan Cards Up

Should I invest in a Michael Jordan Card?

The sports card market has been extremely volatile during the Covid-19 pandemic.  With sports betting, ahem, off the table, gamblers and investors alike are heading to the sports card market to make a quick buck. So if you’re asking yourself ‘Should I invest in Michael Jordan cards?” The short answer is, not really. We’re seeing the pop because of the documentaries, so if you already had them and you sold them for an increase, great!, but there’s no way to know if that will maintain.

But nostalgia always sells. And with the excitement of ESPN’s acclaimed series, “The Last Dance”, NBA fans,  and former/current collectors have scoured the web to find Michael Jordan cards to add to their collection.

What’s fun about being a former collector is your income levels may be a little different than when you were a kid, and now you’re able to buy that one Jordan card you wish you had when you were a kid.

Or can you?

Once word came out about the Jordan documentary prices of his cards slowly started to rise. Check Out My Cards sent out a tweet giving buyers and sellers a ‘heads-up’ about the quick increase of his cards.

Did the program have much of an effect on card sales?

Jordan’s 1986 Fleer Rookie, graded PSA 8, sold for $5,405 on May 21, 2020.  The same card sold for $3086 on February 16, 2020.

While there’s a lot of volatility with this card during that span, (versions have sold in the 10 thousands), there’s definitely a sure increase. 

This is the top example, but the same year Fleer Sticker rookie card had more in print, but also saw a huge increase in prices.  The fluctuation wasn’t as drastic with the larger print run, but I’d still like to have one in my collection.

Mark McGwire

ESPN announced on May 5th upcoming 30 for 30 documentaries that will be airing after Jordan’s Last Dance completes. One of those will showcase Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s homerun race called, “Long Gone Summer”.

While you may have your own opinion of his admitted steroids use, this kind of coverage is already starting to create demand for McGwire’s rookie cards.

On February 7, 2020 his 1987 Topps Rookie graded a PSA 10, and I’m getting nauseated typing this, sold for a mere $36.

His most recent at the time of this post?

$700 for the Tiffany version and $290 for regular version in the same grade.

So… yeah. This will only continue to grow as it gets closer as collectors try and recreate the demand and frenzy that happened during ‘The Last Dance’.

Will this last?

Sports card demand has a tendency to react to public interest.  Also, the release date is important, and there’s no way to know if people will still be interested in Jordan cards in November. But someone as solid as Jordan is always a good long-term buy to maintain value- I’m just not sure you should be buying right now. If you can afford it then you do you booboo, but if I could short the Michael Jordan card market- I would.

As far as McGwire goes, he’s a player that will be based off of pure nostalgia as his stats are far less impactful as a Michael Jordan. His career was filled with highlights, but his demand will be far less than the NBA star, but that’s not to say people won’t enjoy collecting his cards again.

Top Jordan cards to add to your Collection:

Top Mark McGwire Cards to add to your Collection:

What do you think? Buy? Sell? Think this is all maintainable? Let me know in the comments below, and check out more from SCM.

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