Sports trading pins have been popular for nearly a century. Their popularity dates to the very beginnings of the modern Olympic Games. Sports trading pins are more popular today than ever before, and show no signs of slowing down.
Sports trading pins have been appealing souvenirs right from their earliest days. And with good reason. Many feature attractive, first-rate artwork. Their small size makes them portable and easy to trade. Last but not least, sports trading pins are usually specific to certain teams, sports or events. That connects them to places visited as part of the competition or as a spectator.
Everyone likes to feel like they’re part of a team, and sports trading pins give traders a sense of camaraderie, even for spectators. The sports trading pins give players, parents, fans, officials and even spectators a chance to feel that they’re a part of the action.
Olympic athletes originated the custom of swapping sports trading pins among each other in the early years of the 20th century. At the 1906 Games in Athens, athletes from Sweden introduced the basic style of sports trading pins that are common today.
In the early years, the tradition of trading pins was mostly confined to international athletes and officials, who swapped sports trading pins as symbols of friendship through sport. Spectators began to join the pin trading hobby by the time of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. Sports trading pins have become more and more popular every year since, with every succeeding Olympics attracting greater numbers of traders.
Sports trading pins also have become a huge part of youth sports programs over the decades. In particular, Little League baseball and softball have become hotbeds of pin trading activity at games and tournaments. In the early 1980s, Little League introduced its first official sports trading pins. In the intervening years the pin trading craze has grown throughout the country and internationally as well.
At Little League tournaments today, virtually all teams now arrive with sports trading pins to swap with other teams. The trading frenzy reaches a peak each year at the Little League World Series held in South Williamsport, Pa., where sports trading pins are secondary only to the baseball games themselves. Thousands of young baseball and softball players swap sports trading pins by the millions among themselves at the World Series.
For many teams, part of the fun of sports trading pins comes from designing their pins. Choosing a team mascot or logo, deciding how many add-ons the pin should have and what kind, and what size pins to get all make the hobby even more fun. Players enjoy creating mascots and trading pin designs that represent their teams. The real competition is to create the pins with that extra “wow” factor that will make that team’s pins the most sought-after of all. The questions of whether to add extras such as blinking lights, glitter, spinners, sliders or bobble heads make the choices even more enjoyable, and create some unforgettable designs for sports trading pins.