In the United Kingdom, sports, sporting teams, and sporting achievement are valued as highly as religion. It wasnt for kicks that numerous famous writers, philosophers, artists and musicians all delineated football as equivalent to a working class faith. Its equally true, in 21st century terms, that the lives and actions of the people we call “celebrities” are up there with our contemporary deities. We eat, breathe and sleep fame in all its guises. The totems of that fame, the autographs of celebrities from all walks of life, be they famous sports men and women or media giants (and giantesses), are sought with enthusiasm as the chance to own and hold something that has, however briefly, been owned and held by a person whose achievements we all hold dear.
The sports autograph has a particular resonance, probably because it relates to an activity that the nation has held in high regard for so long. People who are famous for appearing on TV, for playing and singing in bands, or for acting in films, are of course held in equally regal status but the football player, or the boxer, has been an object of public adulation for so long that the autographs he delivers have become practically cult objects. There will never be a drop in value for these items, because they speak so closely to the heart of the British citizen. There, but for the vicissitudes of circumstance, goes any one of us and so we are fascinated by that small physical trace left on a photograph, on a match ball or boxing glove, by the person who has climbed to the top of the sporting ladder.
A sports autograph written on a match ball or boxing glove, on something that has actually been kicked or used in some way by the player or sports person in question, holds a particularly high value for the same reason that the first edition of a book that subsequently became famous is held in such treasured regard by the aficionados of literature. Sports autographs written on items of kit used by the sports person in question offer a real, solid connection between the owner of the artefact and the person who signed it. Theres a recognition there that this ball, or this glove, was actually used in the commission of the feats that the public has found so inspiring during the persons sporting career.
That isnt to say, mind, that the autograph of a famous movie star or pop celebrity is less valued. Its much harder to find physical objects used by these people that can be sold on in any meaningful way so the non sporting celebrity signature is placed on a photograph almost by default. Celebrity autographs of this kind are just as loved, and offer just as much of a feeling of connection, as sporting kit. Its simply that sporting kit is readily available, and that sports people have been public heroes for much longer.
Any item of sports memorabilia that has an autograph on it, then, becomes a superb investment for the buyer. Signed sporting gear will never lose its attraction or value and that makes it the perfect way to marry enthusiasm with financial sense.