Sunday, July 22, 2007

Beckham Plays, What Next?

David Beckham played yesterday and apparently people are excited. I wouldn't know I was camping. As far as I can tell I missed next to nothing and the ankle injury had nothing to do with it (I will explain later). I know it's impossible for him to be Michael Jordan in a sport where offense is not celebrated. At least not the point-scoring offense Americans prefer and rightfully expect. Ticket prices seem rather high so we need something to put us in the seats. Now the soccer elitists are going to counter that the game is beautiful and the reason for Beckham's arrival is not to score tons of goals. They are right I suppose. It instead is to put fannies in seats (Americans like goals) and raise the profile of soccer (Americans like offense). I counter that the most important reason for Beckham's presence in the U.S. is so some people make tons of money, (see Beckham, David). People need to be honest with themselves and realize money is the true reason for him coming here. It's primarily money for him but there are some other folks out there that will benefit.

As for the injury, I know that Beckham is nursing an injured ankle. The only thing that affected was his playing time. Whether he is 40%, 80% or 100% he is still a midfielder and still plays soccer. Goals are minimal and after a while Americans will hate that the soccer play that makes Beckham most famous, direct kicks, are a result of cowardly flops and terrible acting. Now that I've disputed the injury argument from our soccer friends I will return to the reasons for Beckham's arrival, and why the first game is a sign that he will be glad he came over but American soccer will not.

Of course I knew Beckham was here and going to play in an exhibition game against an English club, Chelsea FC. With the constant promos on ESPN and reality television shows (I heard the Victoria Beckham show was entertaining by the way) I was under the impression this was a major event. Imagine my surprise when I read a sellout crowd of 27,000 people were in attendance. I wasn't surprised it was a sellout, I was shocked that the capacity was 27,000 people. The MLS brings one of the world's most famous people to play soccer and all they can find is a 27,000-seat stadium? I don't care if this is an ordinary stadium for the MLS, this was not an ordinary game. Beckham debuted and Chelsea FC was the opponent. Put the game in a bigger stadium so Beckham can at least feel like he earned some of his money. If the kid that plays Harry Potter was going to play for the Galaxy against a 40-and-over rec league team from Pierre, SD more than 27,000 people would show up. I understand not playing in an enormous stadium but there might be more than 27,000 people at the first day of Alabama football practice in a couple of weeks. That is American football for anyone thinking Beckham really has altered the sports landscape.

As far as catapulting soccer in America, I'm not sure if that is going to happen. When news of Beckham's signing with the MLS first broke I thought that might happen. Now that it he is actually here, I'd bet against it. You're to tell me Americans are finally going to start liking soccer because a good-looking man is playing in the midfield and kicking penalty kicks? I am not an expert on male hotness but I am confident hot men can be seen doing a lot more exciting things in the United States. Whether that is playing a ball sport that requires the use of hands or acting in movies, I can't say. A more expert opinion is needed to figure that out for sure.

The novelty of an international celebrity playing soccer in the United States is going to fade before too long. I would hope for the sake of the hype machine that sold-out crowds will see the Galaxy play as long as Beckham is playing. However, the diminutive size of the stadiums need to be considered when contemplating the presence of a soccer revolution. I applaud the MLS for trying something new and creating excitement but I doubt it will have the long-term effects hoped for. One thing the MLS does have going for them is that the WNBA still exists. It is a miracle of Biblical proportions that the WNBA exists. I knew a lot of Americans were stupid but I guess I underestimate just how stupid. Would someone explain to me why it is so difficult to find a couple million dollars funding for a legitimately good business idea when at the same time the WNBA exists?

(Photo from Getty Images.)


KingOfTroy7 said...

David Beckham is the best thing to happen to the MLS since Pelé. He is without a doubt a money-maker, but he is not here for the money. He doesn't have to play another game of soccer in his life, thanks to his paychecks from Manchester United and Real Madrid. He is here because he wants the challenge to put the MLS on the map in America like the NFL and the NBA. David Beckham is the most popular athlete in the world's most popular sport. The MLS did a great job by bringing him here. O, and by the way, the Galaxy are a below .500 team so having a sold out crowd of 27,000 people for the next five games is a step in the right direction. Kevin Garnett had a press box for Beckham's first game. Eva Longoria and Katie Holmes shared a box with Mrs. Victoria Beckham and a couple millionaire friends. The fan buzz will not go down as long as celebrities (Eva Longoria, Drew Carey, Kevin Garnett, Jenifer Love-Hewitt, etc.) are their showing the faces. The MLS made a great decision on bringing David here. He has brought more media coverage to the MLS than Brittney Spears shaving her head. This is what the MLS wants and needs. Thank you for your time...

Kathryn said...

The David Beckham hotness factor is high... there is no doubt about that. However, if hotness were enough to make things popular in the US, then Kelly Slater and professional surfing would be the biggest thing going. Slater is at least as good looking and typically only wears board shorts when participating in his athletic endeavor.

As for the WNBA staying in existence... from my understanding it is a complete money losing proposition. The NBA subsidizes it for some unknown reason.