Putting the “Lingua” in Lingua Sports Cards

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Other than taking care of my family, I have two great passions in my life:

  1. Collecting Sports Cards (and following sports more generally)
  2. Studying China and Mandarin Chinese

What I like about these two pursuits is how different they are.  The community of sports fans and sports cards enthusiasts is, generally speaking, quite different from the community of China watchers and Chinese scholars.  Without a doubt, investing my time and resources into these distinct activities has made me a more well-rounded person.  Collecting cards is a great way to understand economics and financial markets, whereas I use my interest in China to better understand international relations, politics, history, and the field of linguistics.  I take these two activities very seriously, so seriously in fact that I hesitate to call them “my hobbies.”  I of course have fun collecting cards and studying Chinese, but I ultimately don’t want sports cards and Chinese studying to simply be things that I do to distract myself from the rigors of daily life; I want these pursuits to be front and center in my daily life.  I have detailed over the past year on this site my passion for sports cards, but have spent little time talking about linguistics and Chinese.  It is time for me to change that.

Balancing my two passions will always be a challenge.  Like is the case for most of us, between work and family commitments, my free time is at a premium.  Finding the time and energy for outside pursuits requires planning, commitment, and self-discipline.  As I think back over the past six months, I realize that I need to do a better job at holding myself to these standards.  On the one hand, I feel good about my progress with my card collection.  My collection grew steadily in 2017 and is now qualitatively better than ever before.  Furthermore, LinguaSportsCards.com is slowly but surely gaining traction in hobby circles (as well as my Twitter account and YouTube Channel).  Most importantly, I’ve learned a great deal about The Hobby over the preceding months, and I’ve been able to use this knowledge to build a more focused collection.  However, my devotion to sports cards has brought with it a cost.  To put it simply, card collecting has distracted me from studying China and improving my Mandarin skills.  I estimate that over the last few months, I’ve spent about 70% of my available time on sports cards, and 30% on China/Chinese.  I’ll feel more complete if I can nudge that ratio from 70/30 to 50/50.  And so as we look to 2018, I plan to make some changes.

First of all, starting in January, I will begin taking two-hour Mandarin Chinese lessons on Saturday mornings.  Class and prep time associated with these lessons will directly impact my card collection.  I’ll have less time to perform card-related research, participate in forums, and otherwise engage with the hobby community.  More significantly, my card budget will take a hit in 2018; one-on-one Chinese lessons are certainly not cheap.  But these sacrifices will be worth it.  My desire to learn Mandarin matches the joy that cards bring me.  Mandarin’s subtleties, complexities, and history simultaneously astound and challenge me; when I am not making enough progress with it, I feel a certain level of emptiness.  Somehow, Chinese is a ballast that provides focus to my hectic life.

For these reasons, I may begin to post some Chinese-related articles and discussion topics here on Lingua Sports Cards.  Truth be told, I’ve had it in the back of my mind to discuss Chinese since the inception of Lingua Sports Cards.  But up until now, I’ve felt that discussing Mandarin might alienate, confuse, and/or simply bore my audience.  After all, this site is first and foremost about sports cards; my Mandarin pursuits are not a natural fit here.  But what I’ve come to realize more and more is that I need to ensure that Lingua Sports Cards is worthwhile to me first.  I need to be happy with the content that I generate.  Otherwise, what am I doing here?  Knowing that I might use this site to discuss Chinese is partially why I selected the name Lingua Sports Cards in the first place.  In medical terms, “lingua” refers to the tongue.  And as an extension to the idea of a tongue, formulations of lingua can be seen in the terms linguistics and lingua franca.  Nowadays, English often serves as the lingua franca for much of the global trade and international politics that occurs throughout the world.  But China’s rise over the past forty years is starting to change this status quo.  Mandarin’s growing world-wide importance coupled with the inherent beauty of the language itself keeps me coming back for more.  Furthermore, I’ve discovered that my passion for Mandarin has sprouted a latent interest in linguistics more generally (in addition to Mandarin, I’ve also begun to dabble in Arabic).  For these reasons, when I created this site, I wanted a name that signified my interest in both languages and sports cards – hence the name Lingua Sports Cards.

So what does all of this mean for Lingua Sports Cards going forward?  Maybe not too much actually.  I’ll still write card-related articles and post videos, although the frequency may slow down a tad.  With a more limited card budget in 2018, I’m not sure if I will pursue more cards (but less expensive on average) or fewer cards than in 2017.  We will see.  The change that will be most apparent to users of this site will be the addition of China/Chinese articles from time to time.  But all along, Lingua Sports Cards will remain a place to analyze and discuss sports cards.  I had a great first year with Lingua Sports Cards, and look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store.

Word of the Day

obfuscate – to make something more difficult to understand; politicians keep obfuscating the issues; their explanations only serve to obfuscate and confuse

One comment

  1. I for one am looking forward to the articles you may post. World history is a passion of mine as well, but I don’t know as much about China as I do Europe. I’ve tried to learn other languages and failed miserably, I can’t imagine trying Mandarin. Impressive! You might be able to tie your two passions together. In 2013-14 Panini issued an NBA set exclusive to China. I don’t believe any of it is in Mandarin, but it’s the only sports cards from China I’m aware of.


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