By Peter Schwartz
» More Columns

The hobby of collecting sports trading cards has been around for many years. It started with baseball cards and the business branched out to football, basketball and hockey — as well as entertainment.

READ MORE: Stolen French Bulldog Found Safe On Long Island, Burglary Investigation Continues

Through the years, The Topps Company has been an innovator in the trading card industry, and they’ve unveiled a new product that adds a different dimension for collectors.  While fans have always been able to collect and trade their favorite players, they will now be able to produce a card with their own likeness on it.

After partnering with Major League Soccer to produce trading cards two years ago, Topps has teamed up with MLS WORKS, the league’s community outreach initiative, to create the “Topps Healthy Habits Card.” It allows users to make and share their very own personalized trading card.

The interactive online activity for kids and adults is designed to promote the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. The league’s “Get Active” program encourages kids ages 7-14 to get healthy and be active.

“They wanted to add a trading card component to it,” said Jeff Heckman, manager of marketing and product development at Topps Digital. “It just made sense for us to partner and use the software that we’ve developed to create this and supplement the program that they were already doing.”

Bradley Wright-Phillips card (Credit: Topps)

Bradley Wright-Phillips card (Credit: Topps)

So not only can fans of NYCFC or the New York Red Bulls collect their favorite stars, but they can also put their own image on their favorite team’s jersey.

Personalized trading cards have been available for years, but not from Topps.  Parents have been able to get their kids Little League cards from various companies and there have been customized card booths at fan fests, but now Topps has responded to many requests from fans to get the real deal.

READ MORE: David Robinson, 53, Arrested For Murder Of Woman Who Died After Falling Down Stairs At Subway Station

“We finally acted on it and decided that we should build it and do a platform ourselves,” said Heckman. “It’s going to be official Topps cards with branding from the leagues that we have the rights from.  We’re going to extend this to Major League Baseball.”

The new MLS cards feature healthy habits that highlight what each participant does to remain active and healthy.  To create the card, fans can visit www.getactivewithmls.com/tradingcard. All you have to do is upload a photo and choose the latest MLS jerseys of your favorite team.

On the back of the card, fans will enter information about their healthy habits.  Once they complete the customized card, users can print their virtual card, share their card with friends or buy a pack of eight cards.

Soccer has exploded in the United States over the last few years, and Topps is a big part of that after creating MLS trading cards in 2013.

“It’s really been great,” said Heckman. “We’ve been doing it for two years and it’s great for us to be involved with MLS. It’s on the upswing.  It’s the 20th year, and a lot of great things happened with the World Cup last year. Soccer has become a much more important sport.”

As a collector myself, it’s been fun to collect cards from all sports over the years.  It’s also been great to get customized cards for me and my family at various events.  But now, thanks to Topps and Major League Soccer, high-quality personalized cards have become a reality — and they promote healthy habits, to boot.

So soccer fans … Does anyone want to trade a David Villa or a Bradley Wright-Phillips card for one of mine?

I didn’t think so, but customized sports trading cards have certainly become a big deal for a variety of reasons.

MORE NEWS: Suspect Charlie Vasquez, 23, Charged In Shooting That Injured 2 NYPD Officers In The Bronx

You can follow me on Twitter @pschwartzcbsfan.  You can also follow The Topps Company @Toppscards, Major League Soccer @MLS and @MLSWORKS.