Grading Chaos & We Are To Blame

I loosely refer to the term “We,” considering I haven’t been found guilty of what I’m about to discuss.

Sports card collecting resonates differently for various individuals. Some engage in it for their love of the sport or players, others for the nostalgic memories it evokes, and a few purely for financial gain.

It’s those pursuing profit who appear most entangled in the issues at hand.

Allow me to commence my discourse by acknowledging that, much like your opinion after reading this, mine still ranks PSA above all other graders—PSA > BGS > SGC > CSG.

The impetus for this post stems from my current snowed-in state and a surplus of time spent watching videos, a byproduct of being snowed in, and participating in live discussions on platforms like WhatNot. It baffles me that people present seemingly valid arguments based on unreasonable expectations.

Here’s a breakdown of what I hear versus my perception of reality:

  1. “PSA is POP CONTROLLING because I didn’t get a 10.”
    • This assertion may or may not be accurate, but those making it often showcase cards with evident issues—off-centering, dimples, corner wear. The problem lies in an unrealistic hope for a 10 for value, leading to frustration when it doesn’t materialize.
  2. “Other Graders are better because they gave me a higher grade.”
    • I recently watched a video where someone cracked cards three times and submitted them to various graders. Flaws were apparent in all the cards, some major. Yet, one grader assigned a higher grade, pleasing the consumer. It’s an artificially inflated number to attract more business.
  3. “Other Graders’ turnaround is 2 weeks; PSA takes months.”
    • Well, grading millions of cards takes time. There’s a reason PSA cards command higher prices. Speed doesn’t equate to correctness. It’s a consumer issue—desiring the best card, top-grade, quickest turnaround, yet demanding PSA pricing. A wishful scenario that doesn’t align with reality.

I refrained from naming specific grading companies above to avoid bias. The blame, in my view, lies more with the consumer until unrealistic grading expectations come into play. Even in the videos I watched, the streamer acknowledged the card’s issues but expressed contentment with a higher grade elsewhere.

In essence, it’s akin to putting lipstick on a pig. It’s still the same pig.

Let’s be honest; grading is the most significant scandal since Enron. We can all identify flaws in a card with our own eyes, yet we pay another human to make similar assumptions, hoping they overlook something for a Gem Mint grade in pursuit of profit.

In conclusion, choose your preferred grading service, but please, refrain from imposing unrealistic expectations on others.