Ranking sport card certification companies: A sociological study on the importance of hierarchies

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Bob Regoli


Baseball card collecting has changed in many ways over the past 100 years. One significant development is the emergence of card certification companies. These companies provide buyers and sellers with an independent opinion of the condition of cards. What is sociologically
interesting about this development is that collectors have produced an informal ranking of the certification companies. The consequence of them doing so is that today the value of a baseball card depends in large measure on what company authenticated it. What is not known, however, is whether any of the companies provide a more accurate assessment
of cards. Nor is it known whether variability exists among the ratings assigned to cards by the companies. This research provides strong evidence that the ratings companies assign to cards are remarkably similar. Our principal conclusion is that the informal ranking of
certification companies that presently exists rests on a foundation of sand and is likely to be unstable and volatile.

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