|The National entrance.
This was by no means my first trip to the rodeo, so to speak. I have attended the last five NSCC shows that have come through Chicago (my first was at the 14th show in 1993, also in Chicago at McCormick Place). Because I live so close to the city, it doesn't take much to make the 50-60 minutes trip out near O'Hare to attend a show.
|With Lou Gehrig's uniform
We hit the show for one day out of the five it was opened. Our day of choice was Saturday, which is generally the busiest day of the show both with events, autograph guests, and foot traffic. We showed up to an already packed house at 10AM, right as the doors opened. Oh, I forgot to mention. The "we" I keep speaking about are my wife and three boys all under the age of 12, which means FREE ADMISSION! But that's not why I brought everyone. I love to share and encourage the hobby with my family. What better way to do that than to experience the biggest show of the year.
My hobby has been something that has taken up a large portion of my time, energy, and attention since I started collecting. This is why I try to involve everyone in the collecting process. My two boys are well aware of my cardboard obsession and it rubs off on them. I encourage them to participate, not just accumulate. What does that mean? Actually look at the pictures, the design, the colors. Read the stats on the back. Read the player story-lines. Staying engaged with the cardboard in your collection makes a big difference in what you collect, how you collect, and why you collect. I keep this at the forefront with my kids so they stay engaged and it is exciting for them.
|Protecting the wife from danger.
|Getting dunked on by MJ.
Which brings me to the FUN portion of the post. What would this hobby be without fun? It wouldn't be a hobby, that much is for sure. Sometimes I think collectors forget the fun part. It becomes more about the "hits", more about making money, more about turning a profit. It turns the hobby into a job, which is fine if that is actually your job. But for the rest of us, hobby burnout is easily achieved when the perspective inches away from fun.
|Getting ready for the Kids Break.
|Rocky. Nuff said.
From a collection standpoint, we picked up multiple early 2000s hockey wax boxes for the price of one of today's releases. We got to sift through dozens of boxes of $.10, $.15, $.25, and $1.00 boxes (although the kids probably were sick of that quickly). My team sets and player collections increased. I knocked a bunch off my want lists. The kids picked up a box to break together and the amount of free cards given to the kids was crazy, too thanks to Panini, Topps, and host of other dealers.
I'm glad I got to experience the National this year and I'm looking forward to 2017. But mostly, I'm glad my family got to experience it with me. Those memories will surely outlast any cardboard we added to our collections.