Now the NCAA is hard at work preventing its athlete-students from signing autographs at "fan events". Good. Anything to stop the scum bag, loser leeches who loiter around 18-year-olds to sign a picture so they can five minutes later put it on EBay.
First it was the whole Johnny Autograph drama at Texas A&M. Now it's the University of Louisville not allowing its players to sign at a fan day because of the pandemic of signatures on pictures and items.
The thrill and innocence of the autograph was killed off years ago by peddlesome "opportunistic" business people who often will give a kid $10 so as to ensure their chances of getting a ball signed that they can then sell at five times that figure.
I will never forget being at the USC athletic deparment when Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and the rest of that well-paid group of amateurs were there in 2005 when I saw four or five adults hanging out on a rainy Sunday in an attempt to have their Trojans football gear signed.
The whole thing has made athletes bitter at signing, and has killed the fun of making a kid's day by signing a bat, ball, or picture.
Alas, there is a way around this and still provide a memory for a fan while taking away the screw job element in this dirty business. It will also act as a wonderful deterrent to autograph business people.
Personalize it. An autograph should be a personal item, so make it that way: "To Bill - best wishes - Gerry Cooney". And make the other person's name big and bold so no one could easily erase or wipe away.
When Dallas Stars PR person Rob Scichili worked for the Anaheim Ducks he told his star winger, Paul Kariya, to simply ask the fan their name and then address the signature accordingly. Sure enough, word eventually spread that Paul would sign but only he would personalize it. It's a minor hassle, but it drove away those who wanted only to make money from his pen.
I don't have many autogrpahed items, but this one is a favorite for the obvious reason that the late Sam Baugh signed the inside of this book to me.
An autograph is, ideally, a sign that you met this person and that he/she signed your item to make a keepsake more memorable. Having that person sign your name along with their own signature makes it that more special, and provides an element of protection against the scumbags who want to profit from it.
There is no way to close every loophole, but an 8-year-old who meets Johnny Football or U of L QB Teddy Bridgewater should be able to ask for an autograph without having their innocent hearts crushed.
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