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Submitted by: Frank Kush
Every sports and entertainment fan has their favorite players, drivers and celebrities. Even though our dreams may have been to be as famous as our favorite stars, there is nothing like being able to meet them in person. For those of us that are lucky enough to do that, there is no better way to remember the occasion than by a photograph and/or an autograph.
The key to collecting autographs in person is really quite simple. The most important factor is to be polite. Most athletes and stars are willing to sign if you are courteous and polite, which includes key words like ?please? and ?thank you?. Even though they may be famous, they are very much just like you and desire to be treated the same way that you would like to be treated yourself. Nothing works better than kind words and a big smile.
Another thing to remember is to respect their privacy. If they are out to dinner with their family, it is not the best time to ask for an autograph, especially after the waiter has just brought their meal. Remember, they value time with their family just as you do. In these instances, be patient. Wait until they leave the table for a minute and don?t be afraid to let them know you did not want to interrupt their family time. Another time may be when the meal, movie or event is over and they are in the process of leaving. Remember to also be quiet because not everyone may recognize them like you, their biggest fan. Be discreet and show appreciation for their time.
A great way to meet your favorite athletes is after the game as they board the team bus or when they are getting in their cars to go home. It is important to remember if they won the game, how they individually performed or how they feel physically as all could be a factor in your success in getting an autograph. If they hit a game winning home run that takes them to the playoffs, your chances might be better. If they made a critical mistake that cost the team the game, your chances might be more difficult. Be understanding. Also, be aware of security. Most lots have security to protect the players from the public so, do your homework and check things out before you waste your time waiting for something that might be impossible to get.
Another common way to meet your favorite athletes that are away from home is in the lobby of the hotel that they are staying in. Try to get a general idea of when they may have a little free time or when they might be leaving for practice and/or the game before they board the team bus. You will be surprised how well they respond to seeing a big fan all decked out in team colors on the road and many players will sign and pose for a quick picture. Again, be aware as many hotels beef up security to protect players from harassment. Don?t be a nuisance and spend all day loitering around the hotel lobby. You don?t want the memories of your special day to involve the police!
Also, make sure you have a favorite item for them to sign. A ball, hat or jersey is some of the most popular items as are game programs and photos. A key thing to remember is to always have a backup item as many players are under contract for the items they sign. If they can?t sign the jersey, have a hat or something else ready for them. DO NOT hand them a box of items and expect them to sign them all. Players are most likely to sign for the true fan and not someone they feel will have the items on E-Bay before the game is over. If the only reason you seek autographs is to make money, please stay at home and leave room for the true fans.
It is also important to have something to write with. In most cases, a fine tip permanent marker is best. The most popular is a Sharpee, which is available in numerous colors and styles. They also seem to work best on hats, jerseys and most fabrics. However, if it is a baseball that you want signed, nothing works better than a ball point pen as Sharpee?s tend to bleed a bit on baseballs. Some people like to have autographs personalized, for example, ?To John?. This is great for your personal collection but if your Great Grandchildren decide to sell it, it could bring down value and demand a bit. It is always best to remain simple.
Lastly, if you are in the majority and are purchasing an autograph from a dealer or online, be sure to request a ?certificate of authenticity? or even a photo of the person signing the product. Most reputable autograph dealers will have these items. That way you can be assured that the item you are buying is authentic. Forgery is and always will be the biggest problem in collecting autographs. If you are not getting them in person, protect yourself. Always do your homework, ask for proof and documentation and always live by the rule that if it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
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