I was thinking about professional drafts and how it’s become so mainstream. The NFL draft is on prime time now over the course of three days. The NBA draft has been prime time for quite a few years and has always had a decent audience. Baseball is starting to have a huge live following, so at some point it’s going to be on TV. Hockey is already on the NHL network and I love watching it. So the question remains, why do we get so pumped?
The answer is at it’s essence quite easy. It’s because deep down, we are all prospectors and the idea of getting in on the ground floor of the next big thing is too big an allure for us to ignore. What makes it so funny, is that the world of cards have mimicked the world of professional sports. No longer is it the veterans that we covet, not when rookie cards soar in the price guides. Just like in pro sports, the rookies have bigger contracts than most veterans.
To give an example, Bryce Harper rookie cards are selling for a fortune on eBay. Not only is he not even in baseball right now, but his rookie cards were worth as much as Pujols, Howard, A-Rod, Lincecum, etc… and he was a sophomore in high school. We have all bought into the hype though (myself included). Why shouldn’t we, draft picks are ascending the depth charts faster than ever. It is no longer uncommon to find 20 – 21 year olds in the majors, 21 year olds in the NFL, 18 year olds in the NHL and 19 year olds in the NBA.
The autographs of most hyped players don’t start after the draft, they start a year or two before the draft. John Wall wouldn’t sign custom cards when he was in high school. Harper has ghost signers and he hasn’t even played pro ball yet. When I went to a national invitation high school baseball game, the players (most were 16 or 17) have been signing autographs for years. LeBron never signed autographs after he hit the cover of SI. Most players are told not to sign too much or it devalues their autograph.
Back to my original question, why do we love the draft so much? Maybe it’s because we love to see where the next generation of stars will end up. Maybe it’s because we can’t wait to see these future stars in the video games. It’s my opinion that we love the draft because we all want to be a part of the next big star. Even if it might take 800 – 1000 failures to find one superstar. We can then say, “I got his rookie card when he was drafted!!!”