Saturday, August 6, 2016

The sad state of Olympic cards

I love the Olympics. I look forward to each event every 4 years, (both Summer and Winter) and I will watch Olympics almost exclusively during their time. I will watch just about every sport, but I can't get into soccer.

Already today I've watched: Basketball (both men's and women's), field hockey, archery, water polo, judo, table tennis, beach volleyball, gymnastics, and yes, even a few moments of soccer. I know swimming is still ahead of me on the docket. 

As a sports fan and card collector, I'm used to collecting cards documenting the sports I love. True, they fall short of what they should be,'s something.

For the Olympics, that is simply not possible.

The Olympics are great because it's all different kinds of sports- not just the 6 that SportsCenter covers. And while I am a supporter of Team USA, there is a lot more to the world of sports than USA.

Especially in the Olympics, which is where players from many various sports come together to represent their country...there are more than 200 countries competing in the Rio Olympics. 200!

There will be NO cards issued to commemorate the events. The winners will have nothing produced to celebrate their wins. If you want to know who won an event in a past're out of luck, because you can't read the back of a non-existent card to find out.

What we do this.
Team Hopefuls. Not even the actual team members! And even if they were the team members... the set is 75 cards. Seventy. Five. The US Olympic team is 554 people! I don't even KNOW how many people make up the Paralympic team, because they don't get any coverage at all other than the cards.  It's probably more than are included in this set.

That's....disgraceful. But wait, it gets worse. Of the 75 cards in the set, at least 10 are not even current athletes, most of the cards higher than #61 are people long retired. They SHOULD be on cards...but they should NOT be part of the set based (loosely) around the current Olympics. An insert, sure, but base cards, taking away spots from actually competing athletes? No thank you!

And the people from the other countries? Forget it. They could be the greatest of all time in their sport, yet they get nothing. Not a single card, ever. If it wasn't for Sports Illustrated for Kids giving a card to Usain Bolt, there would not have been a single card for a non-American athlete in the 24 years I've been a die-hard Olympic fan.

This is not right at all.

There should be an Olympic set that covers each event, with the medalists AT LEAST getting cards, even if the non-winners don't get covered. It'd be better than nothing, which is what we currently get.
And the athletes from other countries besides the USA should get cards. I don't care if they are from countries our government says we should hate like North Korea or Iran. If they compete for a medal, they should have a card. Period!

But we get nothing.

And there's not a darn thing I can do about it... Except make this post, and hope somebody who can make it right sees it.

I know the chances of that are about as likely as me actually competing in the Olympics. Yeah, that's 0%.

But I can't be silent.


  1. I agree with this completely. What really bugs me is that Topps makes this half hearted attempt instead of going all out. While I'm okay with them not showing athletes from the other countries (I do think they should do like a 25 card set of athletes from other countries), the majority I'd be okay in the base set being United States and Canadian. Instead of making 15 parallels of the same cards, make an uber set with say 400 or so cards with at least 300 being current ones and some from past years. I wouldn't release it until say September either. I'm somewhat surprised they haven't done a Topps Now series featuring the Olympics. They could even release it as a set once the Olympics commence.

    Anyways, sorry for clogging up your post, but I do wish they put more of an effort into it.

    1. I could see a Topps Now Style thing coupled with a chance at the complete set at the end.. Even if it's just medal winners.

  2. I've been indifferent on the Olympics.

    The only sport I watched in the summer games was baseball. Maybe a little of the beach volleyball..
    The winter games I watched more but that's more a product of my ex wife having it on at all times when the games were on. Plus Hockey...

  3. I agree with the sentiment, but it's not going to happen in this era. You don't even get full rosters in card products for the Big 4 sports who have established collector fan bases. Maybe in the 90's you could get something approaching a comprehensive Olympic set, but I just don't see it happening today in the era of sick patches, Superfractors, and tiny base checklists.

  4. I know you guys are right, but I had to say it anyway...

  5. A couple of things to note:

    1. Topps needs to get separate licensing deals with each individual athlete to have them on cards. The team USA IOC license only grants them the rights to the logos and things along that nature.

    2. Approvals from the licensor on cards can take a long time. So, if topps waited to see who is actually on the team, these cards wouldn't come out for another three months, thus getting put out at a time when no one would care about the cards anymore.

    3. The license only grants Topps access for the American team. A separate deal would have to be made for other countries.

    It's easy to say "Topps should do this" but it's the processes are not always easy and can be cumbersome and time consuming.

    1. Thank you for the insight. I'm surprised that you have to get each person, and not a one-contract-fod-everyone deal with the USOC like the NBA does. I hope the smaller card set doesn't mean that athletes in Olympic events are getting to where they won't appear on cards. If I were an athlete, I'd be begging to get on a card, that's for sure. I would still care three months or even three years later...I'm still trying to complete my 2012 set. But I may be an outlier as I really love the Olympics more than anyone else I know. Looking at what the prices on a box of the 2014 set is going for now makes me think that is the case. If I had waited I could have gotten three boxes for what I paid for one. Hopefully the Olympic events will start to build up a following throughout the year, not just once every four years. Perhaps NBC would drop a little coverage if the card set onto the broadcasts people who may not know it exists would come into the fold... imagine how many new eyes would see it if Bob Costas opened a blaster on national TV... probably just wishful thinking again, but I am a dreamer, I guess. I shouldn't complain too much, after all, as recently as 2008 there were no cards at all!