Another month, another collectible card setting record prices. However, this one is nowhere even near the price of other cards we have seen. It's not the $5 million+ spent on a Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle card, not even the measly $4.6 million paid for a Luca Doncic (he's a basketball player if you aren't familiar with him). This one was not even a record for a soccer card, though that is the kind of card it was. This new record is still significantly less than 10% of the record price paid for a soccer card, and well below 1% of the record price paid for any kind of card. Therein lies the rub. This new record is for a female athlete's collecting card.
The new record price is $34,440. It is for a 1992 Sports Illustrated Kids card. The honored athlete is women's soccer star Mia Hamm, her rookie card. It is graded PSA 10, the highest grading there is, and the highest rating for any of these cards known to still exist. The auction sale was conducted by Goldin Auctions, a sports card specialist.
Mia Hamm did play for a start-up pro soccer league for a few years, but that was late in her career and not why she is famous. She is known for participating in three Olympics and four soccer World Cup tournaments. She amassed two gold and one silver medals in the Olympics and two World Cup championships. She also won four NCAA championships on the North Carolina team. She was named the Atlantic Coast Conference's all-time greatest female athlete for any sport, alongside male winner Michael Jordan. His record basketball card sold earlier this year for $1.44 million.
A new record price for a woman athlete's collectible card is certainly gratifying, but the price comparison with male athletes' cards is a bit unsettling. That is quite a gap. In the same sale, a record was set for highest price ever paid for any soccer player's card. That was the $442,800 paid for 2019-2020 “Superfractor” autographed card for 20-year-old Norwegian star Erling Braut Haaland. That price bested the previous record of $295,000 for a Pele card. Haaland is obviously an outstanding soccer player, but he has not, at least yet, racked up the level of accomplishments as Ms. Hamm. Not being a soccer aficionado, I will have to admit that I was not previously familiar with Mr Haaland, but I certainly knew Hamm's name well.
The gap in prices mirrors the difference in recognition between men's and women's athletics. Some of this can be attributed to there only being one major professional league in the four most popular team sports in America, baseball, football, basketball and hockey. That is in basketball, but no woman basketball player's card is anywhere near approaching those of Jordan and Doncic. Women athletes are often best known once every four years for Olympic performances, but don't achieve the same fame thereafter. A few sports do have a greater female following, such as gymnastics. Most people are undoubtedly familiar with the exploits of Simone Biles, but probably not those of the only other American gymnast to capture the all-around title at both the Olympics and World Championships – male gymnast (and ironically named for this article) Paul Hamm. Hopefully, this will change. The Olympics are again upon us and once more women athletes will be recognized on a par with men for a short time. Hopefully, it will last beyond the usual two weeks, and one day women can achieve equal pay, and equal card prices, for equal performance.