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Chargers won’t sign autographs at FanFest

Ryan Mathews AP

San Diego Chargers FanFest, the team’s annual training camp event at Qualcomm Stadium, takes place on Saturday. It’s one of the big free events that most NFL teams do every summer, where fans can get an up-close look at their teams, and enjoy it all for free. But this year one thing is different: The players won’t be signing autographs.

When the team announced the event, it noted at the bottom of the announcement that FanFest will not include a team autograph session this year.

So why, when the team is already organizing a big event for the fans to see the players, wouldn’t they want the fans to get an opportunity to get autographs from the players? Chargers PR guy Bill Johnston explained on Twitter that the autograph sessions became too unwieldy.

As I noted when Cam Newton took some heat for charging for his autograph, this is less about the athletes not wanting to give their autographs away than it is about the fact that NFL player autographs have become a valuable commodity on the sports memorabilia market. When huge crowds of autograph seekers show up to an event, with many planning to acquire as many autographs as they can and then turn around and sell them, it changes the tenor of the event from a fun opportunity for fans to a business transaction.

And as unfortunate as it is for the kids who won’t get an autograph tomorrow, there’s no reason the Chargers should use the players’ time to bolster the business of a bunch of memorabilia dealers.

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40 Responses to “Chargers won’t sign autographs at FanFest”
  1. mattolikesthevikes says: Aug 3, 2012 10:27 AM

    What a bunch of squares. Let the players write their names down and at least make some kiddies happy.

  2. icanspeel says: Aug 3, 2012 10:27 AM

    Before all the hate for the Chargers comes up.. The Chargers do a good job of signing autographs before and after their training camp sessions. Knew someone who just came away with a hat full of autographs recently.

  3. fitzmagic1212 says: Aug 3, 2012 10:28 AM

    simple solution. only kids can get in a line for autos. the bills do a kid autograph zone after every practice its perfect i took my younger cousin and he loved it

  4. jlb10 says: Aug 3, 2012 10:29 AM

    sad and pathetic

  5. pens5829 says: Aug 3, 2012 10:30 AM

    I wouldn’t pay a nickel for Cam Newton’s autograph. Or any other professional athlete’s autograph for that matter. It’s amazing the crap people buy and sell.

  6. kacapaco says: Aug 3, 2012 10:31 AM

    The least effortless stuff these idiots can give to those loyal kids for free is an autograph, and yet they are refusing. It really sucks.

  7. humb0lt says: Aug 3, 2012 10:34 AM

    What about organizing it so that only kids can get autographs? I realize that adults planning to sell autographed memorabilia can just use children to get a signature, but it will make it trickier.

    What about starting a program teaching kids about community service (maybe partner with schools) and let those kids who have performed some sort of community service take part in an autograph session with players who are willing to do it?

  8. sc2115 says: Aug 3, 2012 10:35 AM

    They still sign after other training camp practices. From the link:

    Fans interested in an up-close look at the team during practice are welcome to attend the following practices at Chargers Park: Sat. July 28 (4-6 p.m.), Sun. July 29 (10:45-1 p.m.), Tues. July 31 (4-6 p.m.), Thurs. Aug. 2 (4-6 p.m.), Fri. Aug. 3 (4-6 p.m.), Mon. Aug. 6 (4-6 p.m.), Sat. Aug. 11 (4-6 p.m.) and Sun. Aug. 12 (4-6 p.m.).

    I was there yesterday, and while autographs aren’t my thing plenty of kids were there getting them after practice.

  9. chrisjohnston10 says: Aug 3, 2012 10:35 AM

    That really is crappy for those kids. I follow The Patriots on Facebook as they are my favourite team. Every day new photos are added showing the players interacting with the fans at training camp signing autographs. If one of the greatest players of all time, Tom Brady, can take time out of his schedule to sign some autographs for children, every player can.

  10. ripseau says: Aug 3, 2012 10:35 AM

    Its not the players that are saying no. Have u ever been to fanfest? The autograph swarm turns into a mosh pit no kid should ever b in. If u take away auto sessions then its a really fun experience

  11. chrisjohnston10 says: Aug 3, 2012 10:42 AM

    I also love how the excuse is that too many kids went home bummed about not getting an autograph. Now every kid is going to go home bummed about that.

  12. wiitrainingcamp says: Aug 3, 2012 10:43 AM

    The Eagles have a lottery system in place for autos at their training camp that seems to work well. You grab a ticket when you show up and they post the “winning” range of numbers during practice. That way you keep the amount of autographs to a manageable number and keeps the dealers from showing up early and monopolizing the autographs.

  13. shaunypoo says: Aug 3, 2012 10:48 AM

    It is reverse logic. If you don’t let the players sign, there are less signatures on the market and it drives the values up. The more signatures someone puts on the market, the less they are worth. Flood the market with player signatures and you will reduce one of the reasons for an autograph session going crazy.

    Cam is charging a lot for his autograph now because he knows every time he gives it out it is worth a little less.

  14. greeneblitz says: Aug 3, 2012 10:50 AM

    For the Buffalo Bills, not only is every training camp session free, but there are 3 players that do autographs per day for around an hour throughout all of training camp, and a random number of players sign for ALL fans at the practice field fences (usually 4-6 per day), it really builds a great relationship between the team and its fans, too bad all teams don’t see it like the Bills.

  15. robgilman says: Aug 3, 2012 10:50 AM

    let’s be real, charger fans could care less. The only players they know on the team are Rivers and Gates, and scoring an autograph from one of them is a long shot to begin with.

  16. bchapman2011 says: Aug 3, 2012 11:20 AM

    fitzmagic1212 says:Aug 3, 2012 10:28 AM
    simple solution. only kids can get in a line for autos. the bills do a kid autograph zone after every practice its perfect i took my younger cousin and he loved it
    ———————————————————————————————————————————-
    Professional autograph seekers often recruit kids to wait in line at these events and get the autographs for them to later sell. A kids only line does not fix the problem

  17. pftcensorssuck says: Aug 3, 2012 11:26 AM

    bchapman2011 says:Aug 3, 2012 11:20 AM

    Professional autograph seekers often recruit kids to wait in line at these events and get the autographs for them to later sell. A kids only line does not fix the problem
    ———————————————————
    Two simple rules:

    1) Only kids under 17 get in line

    2) Every autograph must be “personalized”, made out “To little Billy Nunzio” and such.

    There goes the value for the secondary “resale” market

  18. mybrunoblog says: Aug 3, 2012 11:27 AM

    Does anyone really want an autograph from a San Diego Charger?

  19. polegojim says: Aug 3, 2012 11:29 AM

    If it makes practical sense as some mention, then remind everyone about future provisions for autographs so you don’t look like jerks.

    Focus on kids as many hear have already said.

    Hearing players who are signed to multi-multi million dollar contracts complain about missing out on ‘autograph revenue’ is nausiating.

  20. EJ says: Aug 3, 2012 11:30 AM

    greeneblitz says:
    Aug 3, 2012 10:50 AM
    For the Buffalo Bills, not only is every training camp session free, but there are 3 players that do autographs per day for around an hour throughout all of training camp, and a random number of players sign for ALL fans at the practice field fences (usually 4-6 per day), it really builds a great relationship between the team and its fans, too bad all teams don’t see it like the Bills.

    No training camp throughout the league is as cool as St. John Fisher. Only 1 of my 4 kids likes the sport of football, but the Buffalo Bills make the training camp fun for all kids, that way the dads can be free to watch their team practice and scrimmage, Its awesome! Also, the players interact with the fans a ton while your there, the players are real cool about everything. They know without the fans that there would be no paycheck for them to earn. I am a Bills fan from Rochester, NY so having the training camp in Pittsford makes it even cooler. The way the team treats its fans is why they have so many die hard life long fans that are willing to still fill the stadium, even though the fact that it has been a decade without the playoffs. Go Bills!!!!

  21. gcsuk says: Aug 3, 2012 11:32 AM

    Kids only, one autograph (by each player) per kid, and the autos are personalized. Who’s going to realistically be able to sell an auto that says “Thanks Bobby, Phillip Rivers”?

  22. 49erstim says: Aug 3, 2012 11:39 AM

    I don’t care much for autographs, but why should it matter to them whether I sell it or not? You spend oodles of money on their product and they’re worried you might make a little bit back? That isn’t a slight against San Diego, but the NFL in general.

  23. ndallasruss says: Aug 3, 2012 11:40 AM

    I think the best way to fix it is for them to give out team “autograph books” to kids with pages for the players to sign. The players then sign “To ____” with their autograph. No mini-helmets or footballs. No generic (transferrable) autographs. Kids that want the players’ autographs are still taken care of. Grown-ups looking to make money can still pay to go to signing events that the players get a cut of.

  24. Getoffmylawn! says: Aug 3, 2012 11:40 AM

    At least they aren’t Charging for the autographs. Sorry

  25. malkinrulez says: Aug 3, 2012 11:41 AM

    The personalizing the autograph is a good idea but from what I hear from the players it is more time consuming. If u have ever taken a look at their autographs most of the time u can barely read them

  26. nyjets1017 says: Aug 3, 2012 11:42 AM

    Flood the market with autographs. Look up the players who always sign no matter how good and they are worth nothing.

  27. brassknuckles47 says: Aug 3, 2012 11:58 AM

    This is just another example of multi-millionaire players not being able to figure out how to get a piece of the memorabilia market for their autograph. I guess a few million dollars a year salary plus endorsements isn’t enough for them.

  28. rooneyruleblues says: Aug 3, 2012 11:58 AM

    Its a huge mess, they tried kids only and you end up having screaming crying kids because not every single one of them can get the player they want.

  29. taintedsaints2009 says: Aug 3, 2012 12:00 PM

    i understand a bunch of kids getting autorgraphs, but adults? that’s really pathetic.

  30. carlsbadboltfan says: Aug 3, 2012 12:01 PM

    Can’t say that I’m surprised by this. They used to let the kids go down to the field and get their autographs. Problem is, the adults who go down there with a kid and end up pushing their way through the crowd just to get an autograph. I stopped bringing my son because of this. It just got way too rough.

  31. jakek2 says: Aug 3, 2012 12:12 PM

    boo. If they only signed autographs for kids 12 and under then there would be no issue.

  32. coseybedaman says: Aug 3, 2012 1:35 PM

    Yes clearly a big problem in the NFL is someone getting an autograph and selling it for 10 bucks. Get a life people. So glad I am a die hard bills fan, and dont have to deal with this garbage. I go to an NFL game and spend hundreds on a ticket, $50 on food, $25 on parking, etc etc. If I want to sell an autograph that I have a double of for 10 or 20 bucks who the hell are they to tell me otherwise. If that is a fan “making money off the players” then us buying a ticket, jersey, or any other NFL product is “the players making money off the fans”. NO DIFFERENCE!!

  33. prosb4hos says: Aug 3, 2012 2:21 PM

    Great logic, instead of some of the kids going home unhappy now ALL of them will. Great job as usually by the folks in charger of the Chargers.

  34. prosb4hos says: Aug 3, 2012 2:22 PM

    Great logic, instead of some of the kids going home unhappy now ALL of them will. Great job as usual by the folks in charge of the Chargers.

  35. hummer53 says: Aug 3, 2012 2:49 PM

    Pretty weak.

  36. captaincanoe says: Aug 3, 2012 2:54 PM

    Some kids might go without…so let’s punish everyone. AKA Social Justice. Who’ s running the Chargers? Nancy Pelosi?

  37. phillyphan72 says: Aug 3, 2012 3:04 PM

    I think people tend to forget that it’s WE THE FANS that are responsible for a NFL players riches.So the players should give something back to the paying customers that make them rich so that WE THE FANS can now make money on them..It’s only fair

  38. chief67 says: Aug 3, 2012 3:56 PM

    Maybe this is why Qualcommie is never full of fans ?

  39. bc1906 says: Aug 3, 2012 4:10 PM

    Let’s get this straight for the last time….Cam does not charge for his autograph. The marketing company that he has a contract with through one of his endorsements does. He makes a cetain amount to be there for his time. Not for each autograph. Cam takes as much, if not more time than anyone to sign before and after practice. I am sure he is not worried about the value of his autograph going down in the marketplace …..

  40. rodsbengals says: Aug 3, 2012 4:16 PM

    I think there’s nothing wrong with let any one get autographs I’m a season ticket holder and pay to see my team play 8 games a year and the expense to get there, along with all the other items I buy. I will be leaving all my items to my sons. So if the teams or player don’t make enough money maybe they should make it other ways!

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