Sports Memorabilia, Hobbies Help During Tough Times










Sports Memorabilia, Hobbies Help During Tough Times
by Jeffrey Reed, Editor,

During our toughest times – and today we’re all focused on our health and the well-being of others – we turn to what comforts us. As I wrote in this space last week, sports is a constant diversion from the realities of life. And for many of us, that extends to sports collectibles and a wide variety of hobbies – particularly now when games across the globe have grinded to a halt.

Just as the coronavirus outbreak began to grip North America, I enjoyed another chat with Chicago’s Michael Osacky, one of the world’s leading memorabilia appraisers and owner of Baseball In The Attic. It was nice to talk about a shared interest for an hour when the world was changing around us. And it was great to hear that the sports memorabilia industry – in particular, the trading cards hobby – has recently received a boost from the Gen Z demographic, a population thought of to be disinterested in collecting anything except for Instagram followers.

Michael Osacky of Baseball In The Attic

“At last year’s National Sports Collectors Convention in Atlantic City, where we had record attendance, I couldn’t believe the number of kids ages 14, 15 and 16 being dropped off by their parents and going from booth to booth, table to table, in search of modern basketball cards,” Osacky said.

“To me, they are the lifeblood of the sports collectibles hobby. For them to be interested in this hobby is important, because for many years all kids wanted to do was play video games and stare at their iPhones. So this new interest – primarily in basketball – is great news,” he said.

The National Basketball Association was the first major sports group to close its doors as the coronavirus pandemic grew in the U.S. With apologies to the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, basketball is now the cool sport amongst children, teens and young adults. Want proof? An estimated 100,000 fans gathered at Nathan Phillips Square to celebrate the Toronto Raptors 2019 NBA championship, which even excited fans in London who drove downtown, honking their horns and waving flags. Indeed, basketball is today’s hot ticket.

And if you think young people are only interested in collecting cards depicting their favourite players, Osacky said think again. He said Gen Z may live for the moment, but the ones who are purchasing bubble gum cards today are quite often investment savvy.

“Someone living in Chicago may be a Bulls fan, but they’re going to invest in buying LeBron James cards, just for the investment,” Osacky said.

Growing up in London, I always had a passion – still do – for collecting memorabilia from local sports teams, namely, the Knights, Mustangs, Falcons, Majors, Beefeaters and London City Soccer Club. As I removed my fan fedora and doffed a reporter’s hat in the early-1980s, autographs were no longer desirable. But sentimental at heart, old jerseys, equipment, programs, ticket stubs and my personal photo collection still bring back memories of my childhood. During this time of social distancing, I’m cataloguing my items, most of which remain in boxes instead of being displayed in my basement. There are only so many favours I can ask of she-who-must-be-obeyed.

Another of my hobbies, fittingly, is communications, namely long-distance AM, shortwave and amateur radio monitoring. Even with social media available, all of these frequencies are seeing an enormous increase in usage today, for obvious reasons. We’re sourcing the latest and widest variety of news and information, and we want to be entertained. And in the case of Ham radio, it’s bridging the distance between global neighbours.

The London Amateur Radio Club recently informed its members of the hobby’s soaring interest, with an increase in licensed hams and those studying to obtain their Ham licenses. And let’s not forget, during times of emergencies, amateur radio is heavily leaned upon for providing critical communications to every corner of the world, including London and Southwestern Ontario.

Even local CB radio communication – insert Smokey and the Bandit joke here – is seeing a boost. With a heavy reliance on in-time deliveries by truck drivers, and with isolation a reality, knowing that a friend or assistance is just a microphone key away is comforting to many.

I’ve long abandoned my hobbies of coin and stamp collecting. I never did take up the hobby of matchbook collecting, as did my uncle. But on those days when I’m not outdoors landscaping, hiking or honing my golf swing, it’s nice to be able to turn to my own sports memorabilia collection while I listen in on the latest radio chatter.


Jeffrey Reed has written about sports, leisure and business since 1980. He is also publisher and editor of award-winning website publication, Reach him at

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and

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