Collecting cards in a world without sports

As sporting leagues across the globe shut down because of COVID-19, sports fans are needing to look elsewhere to find ways to follow their favourite players and teams.

Nick Moseley delves into the world of trading cards in an attempt to get his sports fix.


NICK MOSELEY: Ever since I was young, collecting has been something that’s intrigued me. The idea of amassing a collection of something you like, maybe with the hope of them increasing in value one day. Coins, stamps, beanie babies. None of these were really my thing. But a combination of sport and collectables? Count me in. The trading card hobby has changed a lot since the days of merely collecting the AFL cards from the daily newspaper. Now there is big money and business to be found in sports cards – predominately NBA basketball cards. In February of 2020, a rare “Logoman” Lebron and Jordan card sold at auction for approximately 1.5 Million Australian dollars. While not yet at this level, rising stars such as Zion Williamson and Ja Morant are avidly collected and fetch a good price on eBay. I spoke to Blake Riley, employee and daily “group-breaker” at Cherry Collectables, one of Melbourne’s largest sources of trading cards, and asked him “what do you feel the appeal of collecting trading cards is?”

BLAKE RILEY: I’m pretty sure a lot of people, as a kid would remember Yu Gi Oh cards or Pokémon cards or just some sort of collection in their childhood that eventually get you into higher end collectables. You see the same thing with figurines and stuff, if you’ve got that collector in you it stays in you.

NICK MOSELEY: Just for people who don’t know what group breaks are, could you give me a quick breakdown?

BLAKE RILEY: Yeah, we take the cost of different sealed box prices and split that by thirty. Whether we split that evenly, in a random team break where everyone pays the same, and you could get the best team or the worst team. Or alternatively a pick your team break where the better teams are priced higher, and the not-so-desirable teams are priced a lot lower. We then open up all the cards that are in those boxes and packs and we send out the good stuff to the people that jump in!

NICK MOSELEY: How has Cherry had to change since the start of this pandemic?

BLAKE RILEY: We don’t have the advantage of people walking into the store anymore, to buy stuff. So, we have had to, like most business, do a massive transition into the online world. I think a lot of businesses are having to do that same thing, where, you need to find a way to turn that walk-in business into online shopping business. And that’s what we’ve tried to do, with more breaks. More of a focus, on online content, online selling.

NICK MOSELEY: What would you say to people that have fallen out of the hobby, and are interested in getting back into it?

BLAKE RILEY: People who are a little bit older than I am remember collecting cards from the 90s, where it was 50 cents for a pack, but you know, now they’re older, now they have money. Now they can spend fifty dollars on a pack, and further from that as well. Some people do purely see it as an investment, here other people are like “Wow, that guy is on my screen and now I have the jersey he wore, and the autograph he signed.

NICK MOSELEY: So if you’re someone that is really missing sport like I am, maybe try to dip a toe into the world of sport trading cards. Who knows? Maybe you could find a new favourite player, favourite sport or even make a couple of bucks.