Christmas Wishlist to CGC from a Sports Magazine Collector…
How are things going? I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I want you to know that I’m thankful for you. The grading of sports magazines has opened me up to a new hobby that I absolutely love. But Christmas is coming up, and I have a few things on my wish list.
I don’t want a Red Ryder BB gun, because I’m scared I’ll shoot my eye out. I’m also not asking for a Turbo-Man action figure, because I’d prefer not to get tackled by Arnold Schwarzenegger. But what I am asking for are just a few improvements from you.
My CGC Christmas Wishlist
- Faster Turnaround Times
I’m on my way to the post office to drop off a shipment of Sports Illustrated magazines to be graded. They are gifts to my brother—for Christmas 2023. You see, the current turnaround time for a Sports Illustrated magazine to be graded at the cheapest level is 235 days. 235 business days, that is. So let’s see here…235 divided by 5, divided by 4.5, carry the 2 (for dramatic effect)….that’s approximately 10 and a half months before one could expect to receive back a graded sports magazine.
I hate to be negative but that’s just…too long. Perhaps the appropriate word would be ‘buzzkill’. There’s a certain thrill to receiving your graded collectibles back in the mail, but in reality, it’s just really hard to be excited about waiting nearly a full year before you’ll see your item again. Not to mention that for a seller, timing can completely alter the value of an item. Sent in a Fernando Tatis Jr. first cover last year? Sorry—he’s now a disgraced cheater who takes steroids to “treat ringworm” and his collectibles have been decimated. Want to sell some soccer covers during the peak hype of the World Cup? Gonna have to wait until 2026 unless you sent your issues in over 10 months ago.
I understand that comics are your first love, but you’re getting modern comics back in 20 business days compared to 235 for sports magazines. Really? At the cheapest level, PSA is currently getting graded sports cards back in 3 months. SGC is returning them in 2 weeks! If any of the other reputable grading companies ever decide to get into the graded sports magazine game (it’s bound to happen eventually), and they are able to offer better turnaround times, I’m sorry but I’m sending my best friend to whisper in your ear that I’m breaking up with you. I know it’s not easy, but please hire more graders or do whatever needs to be done to make these wait times more reasonable. How are we supposed to attract more people into the hobby when they have to wait over 10 months to get their first copies graded? Not everyone has the dough to send their magazines in through the faster and pricier tiers.
Current stated turnaround times for grading magazines at CGC.
- Better Options for Autographs
You have the strictest autograph policies in the game and I respect that. Nothing gets a CGC signature series label unless one of your employees literally witnesses the signature take place. Fine, but…
You set up all sorts of opportunities for comic book collectors with guest signers at CGC events. As of today, you have graded over 1.2 million books classified within the signature series. Do you know how many of those have been Sports Illustrated magazines? 35. No, not 35 thousand. Thirty-five. That’s 0.002% of all signature series books you have graded. Autograph collecting is extremely popular among Sports Illustrated collectors. But when do we ever have the opportunity to get a signature series label? Essentially never.
Another concern is the way that you label magazines that have already been autographed. Let’s say that I have a Sports Illustrated magazine that has been autographed and authenticated by JSA. Right now, if I send that magazine to CGC, I have two options:
Option 1: You will deduct 1-2 points from my grade because of the writing on the cover. Though the magazine may legitimately be in 9.0 condition, the highest grade I could expect is a 7.0 or 7.5. There will also be no acknowledgment on the label that the magazine is autographed.
Option 2: If I make a special request, you will not deduct my grade, but will instead give me a “qualified label”. Therefore, the aforementioned magazine will indeed be graded with a 9.0, but it will come with a green qualified label and will say “writing on the cover”.
Those are two astoundingly poor options. It is extremely common for sports magazine autographs to be authenticated by other well-known companies such as JSA, PSA, Beckett, and others. Please…PLEASE…consider the idea of simply recognizing these certifications on your slabs. You don’t have to authenticate them. Simply put on the label – “Mickey Mantle autograph – authenticated by JSA” (as an example). That way, you are not taking on the responsibility of authentication yourself, but instead leaving it up to the collectors to determine whether or not a certain authentication is legitimate.
This autographed Muhammad Ali cover was given a qualified label by CGC and reads “’Muhammad Ali’ written on the cover in marker” on the slab notes, though the signature has been authenticated by PSA.
- Stronger Cases
I believe you know this is an issue. It is pretty common for us to receive our magazines back only to find that they’ve been cracked in transit. Even if they arrive undamaged, we then essentially have to treat our slabs as if they are baby doll infant simulators from Home Economics class. I’ve heard whispers that you’re working on an upgraded case. If this is truly the case (I’m a dad—I’m allowed to make puns), when can we expect that to happen? A slab of higher quality would go a long way to improve the hobby. I’m pretty sure I could throw a PSA slab into the depths of Mordor and it would come out intact. A CGC slab, on the other hand, is basically the Greg Oden of collectibles at the present time.
This cracked CGC slab is not an uncommon occurrence.
- Improved Labeling
It is extremely important for comic collectors that first cover appearances and variant covers be notated on the CGC label, and you seem to do a pretty good job of this. Well, we sports magazine collectors value this as well. Unfortunately, it feels like pulling teeth to get these notes added on to our sports magazine labels. I understand that you don’t want to be too loose with this and risk inaccuracies. But can you please just consider employing someone who is an expert on sports magazines (give me a call) and can help guide you in the right direction?
At this point, nearly every key Sports Illustrated issue has been graded in your census at least once, but I would estimate that less than 25% have the proper notations. You don’t need to ask collectors to send you sticky notes. Bring in an expert on your team and get all of those labeled ahead of time. It truly would not be that difficult, and it would be a big upgrade for us collectors who prefer to have the proper labeling notated on our slabs.
This Sports Illustrated issue has been properly labeled in the bottom right corner as the “1st Patrick Mahomes Cover”.
That concludes my Christmas wish list, CGC. Thank you for listening. Please don’t take my requests the wrong way. I love this hobby and how you have contributed. I simply want to see things continue to improve and I understand that if nobody tells you, you may never know. Next Christmas, the eggnog’s on me.