Recently, Jordan Spieth put adult autograph seekers at the 2017 Pebble Beach Pro-Am in their place by telling them to “get a job” and to stop profiting from his success. Fair enough. It’s his autograph to either give or not to give.
It’s easy to see where he’s coming from, but before we praise Spieth for standing up against these losers, creeps, vultures, or whatever else you want to call them, let’s take a look at the autograph industry and who suffers from Spieth’s stance.
Essentially, you can put autograph seekers into five different buckets. I’ll go through each category with the perceptions and reality of each before ultimately getting to the point.
No one in their right mind is going to argue with kids who want an autograph. In the world of autographs, it really is all about the kids. Have you ever seen a kid get an autograph from their favorite athlete? Then you know what I’m talking about.
2) Adults getting the autograph for their kid
This one is also tough to take a stand against. There’s a number of reasons why a parent is at a sporting event without their child, but still wants to provide them with an awesome souvenir. Let’s say an 8-year-old had school and couldn’t miss, but the father went to the practice round at Pebble Beach and had the opportunity to get a Jordan Spieth autograph for him. Any concerns here? Not from me, but maybe you disagree.
3) Adults who want the autograph for themselves
OK. I see your point. Maybe this is a little weird. Especially when the adult is years, if not decades older than the athlete. But let’s say a middle-aged man wants a John Daly autograph for his man cave, or a middle-aged woman wants an Adam Scott autograph. Still as weird? There are certainly stranger things for adults to collect than autographs, so maybe we shouldn’t judge too heavily.
4) Those seeking autographs to sell at charity events
This one could be sticky for some to rationalize, and easier for others. Let’s say you’re running a charity event to raise money for ALS Research. At the event, you’re giving away a number of different items to raffle off and the profit goes to the research fund. Among those gifts is a Jordan Spieth autograph that was obtained at the AT&T Pebble Beach practice round by an adult. So yes, the autograph was obtained and sold, but the money went to charity. Hmm….
5) Adults with the intent to sell the product on Ebay
This is far and away the easiest group of people at which to point the finger and tell them they’re morons. Specifically, Spieth’s case against this group of people is that they have no intent to give the autograph to a kid or a good cause. They’re simply profiting off of his name…literally, and Spieth has a point. But what if we think about this group in a different light?
Imagine yourself as the parent of a 10-year-old kid who idolizes Jordan Spieth. You can’t afford to fly the family out to Pebble Beach to see Spieth play and hopefully get an autograph, but your child’s birthday is coming up and you really want to give him a signed Pebble Beach golf flag. So what do you do? You go straight to eBay and see if anyone is selling a Jordan Spieth-signed Pebble Beach flag.
You buy it.
It was $125, but hey, not that bad for an awesome gift. It comes in the mail five days later, just in time for the birthday party. And when your child opens up that gift, his eyes light up. He hangs the flag on his wall and looks at it everyday. Maybe he even starts to play golf every weekend because the autograph got him so excited.
Now, is it really that big of a deal that the person who provided the kid with the autograph made a few too many dollars off of it? Would you rather the 10-year-old Jordan Spieth fan never get the autograph?
The point is, there’s a demand for Jordan Spieth autographs. Whether it’s kids, adults, grandparents or dentists who want it for their waiting room, there’s a market. And there’s a short supply. Jordan Spieth is the only person in the world who can provide a Jordan Spieth autograph, and someone somewhere down the line is going to make money off of selling that autograph to the parent of the 10-year-old kid who wants it.
If it wasn’t for the autograph-selling adults, some children would never have access to their idol’s autograph.
What would you do?