Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sage HIT is live, awesome and probably done

Although the trading card blogosphere is usually more interested in high-end products, I think that some of the best football cards released every year are the stable Rookie-focused sets released in March and April before the draft. For me, Sage HIT and Press Pass football cards are a sign that spring has sprung and it is time to prepare my mock draft.

Unfortunately, not all niche products are created equal. From year to year, Sage HIT and Press Pass cards can be good, bad, or ugly. I am happy to announce that this year's Sage HIT is good.

To commemorate this good release, let's take a walk down HIT memory lane from 2000 to 2010...

Unfortunately, 2010 Sage HIT may be the end of the line. As of April 1, 2010, Upper Deck will be the exclusive licensee of collegiate trading cards after signing a multi-year agreement with the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), which represents more than 200 colleges and universities. That exclusive rights contract, similar to the contract that Topps has with MLB, should make it difficult for Press Pass and Sage to continue to produce cards of the top collegiate players and prospects. At the very least, it is almost certain that Sage and Press Pass will be forced to airbrush out any identifiable team logos.
While I won't dispute that, for the most part, Upper Deck makes better cards that Press Pass or Sage, it will still be sad to see them go. In addition to the basic fact that competition makes all card manufacturers better, Sage HIT and Upper Deck provided a number of things that, to this point, Upper Deck and Topps have not. For example, Sage HIT and Press Pass featured cards from a number of top college players that Topps and Upper Deck ignored because they were not NFL prospects. In addition, Press Pass' on-card autos were much better than the sticker autographs that Topps and Upper Deck featured, even in their highest-end products.
What makes this exclusive rights deal even more disappointing is the pathetic reasoning that the CLC is giving for their decision. According David Kirkpatrick, CLC's Vice President of Non-Apparel Marketing, granting Upper Deck the exclusive rights to produce collegiate cards "will place a renewed focus on collegiate accomplishments in addition to a student-athlete's post-collegiate potential." According to Kirkpatrick, "there are many opportunities in the collegiate trading card category that have not been fully realized, and Upper Deck shares our vision for expansion."
Of course, Kirkpatrick's explanation is logically false, per se. By contracting the number of licensed producers of collegiate trading cards, the CLC and Upper Deck are by definition decreasing, not expanding the opportunities for collectors of collegiate trading cards.

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