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My big fat David Beckham post

So here we are, six months after that crazy morning when David Beckham's signing with the Los Angeles Galaxy was 'Breaking News' on ESPNEWS. Warning, this is a big one. As in long. Grab a muffin or something.

Since that January morning plenty has been written in the traditional media and the blogosphere about arguably the world's most famous, stress famous, athlete moving toward the end of his prime to the wasteland that is MLS. We've had about a million ex-NASLers and Britons saying Beckhs has made a mistake of 'Wild, Wild West' proportions. (Kevin Kline action star!)

We've had Galaxy GM (and guitar player) making ludicrous statements in the English press, almost on a daily basis. We've had media members that know nothing about soccer and grew up using the sport as a cheap punchline disregarding the signing with their typical myopic views.

We've heard from just about everyone except for Beckham himself, other than his affirmation of the move and his ad for Disney World as a (fey) dragon-fighting knight. His introduction to Los Angeles is Friday.

Before we delve into the meat of this post, there's one thing to keep in mind. When the Galaxy signed Beckham from Real Madrid -- NO BODY WANTED HIM. He had been dropped after the World Cup by England coach Steve McClaren and benched by Madrid coach Fabio Capello. The man they affectionately refer to in Merry Olde England as 'Golden Balls' was looking rather bronze. (No, not Victoria's perma-tan.)

Six months later, Beckham is considered the savior for England's Euro-2008 qualifying campaign. And Real Madrid sporting director Predrag Mijatović basically groveled in the bowels of the Bernabeau to find a way to cancel that Galaxy deal so he remain with the La Liga champions.

The big question remains -- will Beckham and his ex-Spice Girl wife capture the hearts and imagination of America like it did in Britain? All things considered the outright Beckham worship in England escapes me. Yes, Americans go ga-ga for celebs, but at the levels that 'Becks and Posh' were?

Suffice to say, nary an MLS player, outside maybe Internet-whipping boy Landon Donovan, could generate this sort of buzz. And with that buzz, we need to separate Beckham's into a few different categories. You almost have to separate Beckham the player, Beckham the man, Beckham the brand and Beckham the hype machine.

Yep, he's that special. So special that the trolls that normally wouldn't know MLS from MLS are taking notice, albeit derogatory notice. He's so special that the Galaxy threw away there logo and jersey design from the last decade for a new, Real-inspired duds (he gets a nice cut for all sold). He's so special that the normally Trotsky-esque league changed it's entire salary structure to accommodate him and his roughly $25 million (plus incentives) five-year deal.

Let's look at Beckham in a few different categories.

1. Beckham the player.
2. Beckham's impact on MLS off the field.
3. Beckham's impact on soccer in the media.
4. Beckham's impact on soccer in America.

Let's boogie. (Now might be the time to enjoy that aforementioned muffin.)

Beckham the player

This is the most cut-and-dried topic on the list. As evidenced by his inspired play down the stretch for Real Madrid, Beckham clearly has plenty left in the tank.

The right foot. That magical right clodhopper that has inspired movies, plays, musicals, shrines, cults, saved the world's children, etc. can still get the job done and is immediately 1,000,000 times better than just about anyone else in MLS.

Is Beckham one of the world's best players, currently? From a soup-to-nuts perspective, probably not. Yet he's a unique talent that can thrive given the right situation. For set pieces alone, he'll be useful. Then factor in his impact behind the scenes as a professional who's played for two of, if not the two biggest clubs in the worlds -- Manchester United and Real Madrid. You hope some of that rubs off on the younger players.

How much his play effects a team that sits in fifth (out of six) teams in the MLS Western Conference, is open to debate. How he connects with Donovan should be worth watching, too.

A bigger question, a question I've posed in the past -- how will the league protect Beckham? No doubt there must be a $11K per season player or two angling at a chance to make himself famous by a horror-two leg tackle on the $25-million-dollar-man. Think Jack McCall shooting Wild Bill Hickok in the back of the head on 'Deadwood.'

That said, if you think the NBA catered to Michael Jordan and it's stars, prepare to be disgusted. Beckham is going to get the red carpet treatment off the field, so he should get it on it. We'd collectively all better pray that MLS boss Don Garber doesn't try to pull the strings like David Stern and gerrymander it so the Galaxy get some extra breaks in their quest to make the playoffs.

Down the stretch of La Liga season Beckham earned a few dubious yellow cards, which he later appealed. Can't see that happening Stateside.

Overall, with the amount of truly 'world-class' players in MLS hovering around a dozen, the injection of a player like Becks is only a good thing.

People have doubted Beckham all his career. And for all that he lacks (speed), the guy has a knack for the dramatic and can rise to the occasion. Like most modern-day athletes, he thrives on people doubting him. Therefore, there's almost as much at stake for him to produce in MLS and not just take a sunny SoCal vacation than the league itself. Many people would like nothing more than him to fall flat on his face and that will push him every night in outposts like Columbus.

Will every game produce a moment like England v. Greece at Old Trafford? Unlikely, but as proven, you can't count out Beckham. Like all transcendent sportsmen, he can produce magic at any given moment.

If only we could hermetically seal Beckham in carbonite and keep him strictly to on-field duties then there would be no problems, no debates at all.

On-field, Beckham is a no brainer, a slam dunk.

Beckham's impact on MLS off the field

Quite simply, there isn't a player in the world that could have generated the buzz levels, the likes of which MLS has never seen, than Beckham.

No, he's not a Ronaldinho, Messi, etc.

Yet, he's a name. In fact for many years he was the name in international football. Forget that his best days are behind him this is the guy the league had to get if it were to even increase it's stature domestically and across the globe. Do you think the Galaxy are touring Asia, as they will shortly, without Beckham on the payroll? Even if its for the 'Bend it Like Beckham' film, most Americans have at least heard his name.

In an instant he legitimized the league.

It's a safe bet the amount of ink generated by Beckham's move to Los Angeles dwarfed what the foreign press had previously written about the league, however derisive.

Since Beckham's transfer a couple other lower profile internationals have taken the American plunge, such as Galaxy teammate Xavier, the Crew's Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Chicago's Cuauhtémoc Blanco, etc. Would these moves have happened pre-Beckham? Hard to say. It's safe to say that Beckham's move has decreased the stigma for some foreigners of playing in MLS, as in -- it's not a total wasteland.

For better or worse, Beckham has people talking MLS.

With any luck, the increase in attention will force MLS to consider some changes. Perhaps some of the things I outlined last year in my 'MLS Manifesto.'

Perhaps people will ask, why do eight of the league's 13 teams make the playoffs? Why unlike most of the world does the regular season count for anything? Why isn't there a hint of promotion/relegation? Why doesn't the league take a break during international competitions? Why do so many teams play with surfaces catering to gridiron football, lines and all? Etc.

For it's 12-year existence MLS has operated in the safety of having little, if any accountability to anyone outside its few rich sugar daddies. Finally, thanks to Beckham's arrival, the league will have to answer to some of it's backwater, insulated, American-isolationist ideas.

That's a great thing -- a high tide raises all ships.

Screaming 14-year-old girls preening for Beckham in a 1960s 'Ed Sullivan Show' redux ...well...

Beckham's impact on soccer in the media

Unlike Beckham and Posh, this is going to be ugly. U-G-L-Y. Sports Illustrated cover or not. (Hello slow sports week.)

Wait unlike Beckham comes to your town and your local columnist, a guy who doesn't know Kaka from the brown stuff in his toilet will trot out to the stadium (if he can find it), much on some press room vitals, moan about soccer to his press room chums and pen a column something like this.

"The great hope of American soccer, David Beckham, came to (INSERT YOUR TOWN HERE) last night. We've all been told for the last three decades that soccer is the sport of the future and how finally this Beckham character, he of the popstar wife, will change that. Sorry. Americans will never like a boring sport like soccer. Last night Beckham didn't bend it at all. He didn't even score. etc, etc."

Rinse. Lather. Repeat. Maybe give a half-handed credit to Jim Rome.

If I really wanted to, I could probably run a stupid, hackneyed soccer-bashing/Beckham column every day from here on out. Most of the mainstream media will treat Beckham's arrival with a mix of disdain, curiosity and typical arrogance and ignorance toward soccer. I'd even give out bonus points for writers that DON'T mention the words "Bend," "It," "Posh" or "Spice".

Meaningful, rational analysis will be left to the far too few journalists that 'get it.' You'd think that lo all these many years that we could see through the 'soccer sucks/soccer is boring' argument, yet that would mean writers and editors would have to stretch out of their comfort zone. So when you can merely file an the easy, 'soccer sucks and Beckham won't change that' column, add in the final score, hit send and keep munching on snacks, why bother with effort? Why be positive when it's so easy to be negative?

What are these American media types afraid of? Does Dick Young's 1970s, 'soccer is for communist' argument still hold water?

Part of me wonders, do sportswriters in China, bemoan the increased efforts of Major League Baseball trying to import baseball to the People's Republic?

You don't have to anoint soccer as great. Just treat it fairly, without potshots.

Meanwhile, there's the whole ESPN situation that is already making be sick. Why the network thinks that one player is going to spark interest in the entire league is debatable. You wonder if 'MLS Primetime Thursdays' would exist if not for the deluge of Beckham coming your way?

ESPN will teeter on very fine line for Beckham-burnout will an already less than receptive soccer-audience. Will they have a Pedro Gomez or Jim Gray assigned to Beckham like those two are joined at the hip with Barry Bonds and Kobe Bryant? (I nominate Ed Werder. 'Stache = comedy.)

And if the booth of Davey 'Doublechin' O'Brien, Tommy Smythe and Eric Wynalda was insufferable enough already. Wait until they insert Reggie Bush into the booth to hawk adiddas sneakers. (Let's hope O'Brien removes Beckham's member from his mouth before trying to talk.)

For Beckham's first match -- an exhibition with Chelsea -- they'll have isolation cameras on Beckham (ugh); a celebrity camera(double ugh), etc. Also there is a company mandate every fifth word must be 'Beckham'Can you say "Mute button"?

This sort of coverage might turn more people off that it attracts. It is against every fiber of ESPN's being to just present a sporting event without a million useless bells and whistles. Wasn't it a pleasure to watch the U-20 US game vs. Brasil last week on ESPN since the feed was dictated by FIFA and not Bristol?

It's a simple game! People can figure it out. There's constant action. It's not baseball. We don't need an avalanche of stats. Show the picture. Announce the names. Easy. Let the game breathe and speak for itself.

Nothing would be worse than pre-fabbed hype from the booth, especially if the game is shit. If Beckham is off his game, say so.

Another problem with the 'Worldwide Leader' is that none of their on air talent back in Bristol, Conn. has the foggiest idea about soccer. All we can hope for is they don't yell, 'Gooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaal'. (That's so 1990s.)

Considering outside the NHL, ESPN has about 50 talkers for every sport, the soccer-heads of Wynalda, Smythe and Allen Hopkins isn't enough. (If it weren't for his wee-Irish accent Smythe would be totally useless.) Bring on a Steven Goff from the Washington Post to talk on "PTI" or "Around the Horn", not the same schmuck go-to guys. Again, this goes back to treating the Xs-and-Os of a story, not the cheap heat.

Considering ESPN butchers every sport and makes watching a game on their network a trial in endurance, us soccer fans shouldn't complain too much.

As with everything, dealing with ESPN is a double-edged sword.

In the year 2007 American soccer fans can satisfy their appetite with the Internet, soccer-only cable channels, etc. Yet, far too many dimwitted mouth-breathers only know of the sporting world what the four-letter-word spoon feeds them. That's why it's infuriating that ESPN goes ga-ga over Beckham, yet barely mentions the United States National Team forays in the Gold Cup and Copa America.

Maybe that's part of the fun of enjoying soccer in America. You don't need to live under ESPN's media Iron Curtain. Hopefully Beckham doesn't change that.

Of course, aside from the normal sports media, Beckham and Posh Spice will find their ways into the 'People' magazines of the world due in no small part to their friendship with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. The are part of the 'beautiful people' after all. Expect them to be a part of those supermarket glossys right away.

If this doesn't get the so-called 'soccer moms' to actually pay attention to the sport aside from driving little Connor to his game cutting up orange slices nothing will. Though they're more interested in Beckham's hair than the Galaxy's assumed 4-3-3 formation.

Not sure if that's a good thing.

It's a shame MLS almost has to prostitute itself to gain some kind of media spotlight. It's one thing to a cholesterol-stained sportswriter like Jay Mariotti to take swipes at Beckham and soccer in general. It's entirely something else when the Ryan Seacrest's of the world get in on the joke.

Selling your soul always comes with a price.

Too bad this is beyond Beckham's control. The media spotlight is stuck on him until he likely ends his time on earth. As for Posh -- yawn. I guess she's good looking and all, if you like 90-pound ex-popstars with hammered on fake tits.

And I think it's written somewhere. Somewhere in the back of the bible, maybe, that Victoria's upcoming NBC reality show might be the seventh sign of the apocalypse.

Beckham's impact on soccer in America

Let's face it, if Pele couldn't make America care about soccer, how can Beckham, right?

It doesn't matter.

It's not 1979 and MLS is not the NASL, which at one point had the US National Team as a team in the league. The infrastructure of stadiums and television deals and actual American players is in place. The MLS is solidly rooted in its firmly Stalin-esque stance that the league is a singular entity holding the player contracts, etc.

The MLS is here to stay, with or without Beckham.

Many misguided media members are already saying no one can make soccer popular in America, especially not a guy who -- in America -- is more famous for his hair and hair care products than his game. That's probably true.

Of course Beckham isn't going to make people care all that much about a midseason Wizards/Crew match, either. Nor is he going to replace the NFL as the preferred football. In short, it's not going to start a revolution.

But just think. Everywhere the Beckham tour goes should attract big crowds. Crowds, albeit of curiosity seekers, more than anything else.

Yet if in the crowd of say, 40,000 a thousand or so people come to the conclusion, "Hey, this MLS isn't as bas as I've heard. I actually had a good time. Maybe I'll come back next week." It might get some of those untold millions of kids that grow up paying god-forsaken AYSO soccer might consider to keep following soccer as they grow up like other sports.

Granted the majority of people that attend these games are the kind of people that think Michael Bay's 'Transformers' muck is better than 'Citizen Kane' might find the games, 'too boring' even with that impish English lad whipping free kicks around.

Acceptance and awareness are two different things.

So if just a few people's eyes are opened to the American version of the beautiful game (warts and all) then the mission will have been accomplished. You have to wonder though, will a guy like Beckham, a guy that talks in a soft, half-cockney and allows himself to be photographed like this, will resonate with America.

Despite the fact I've heard Cougar Mellancamp is a soccer fan, I doubt Chevy is making a new 'Our Country' advert with soccer featured because of Beckham any time soon. Well, maybe if he did it in Spanish for Univision.

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20 Responses to “My big fat David Beckham post”

  1. # Blogger Kent

    Typically insightful work, I'm sure this will be the most well thought out thing I read on the topic.

    I think the real key here will be whether or not Becks impact is much the initial bump in attendance/revenue/attention falls off or doesn't will go a long way in telling you just how "worth it" this gamble was.

    I for one plan on just enjoying this. We've got an entertaining guy to watch play the game coming west instead of the other way around. I think it's going to be fun and I hope soccer fans don't lose sight of that.  

  2. # Anonymous Josh

    This belongs in the top five discussions about Beckham. Ever.


  3. # Blogger sven

    Well written.

    In terms of future in flux of non-American talent, Beck's arrival might most importantly legitimize the MLS with higher-caliber foreign players.

    Even though I'm lukewarm to Becks, I'll certainly be watching.

    And, let's not bring up promotion/relegation until the league sorts out its other problems. Why people insist on this as some sort of answer is beyond me. It won't solve work now and it won't work for some time, nor does it solve any problems. With the exception of maybe the last two matches of the season, crappy games don't get more exciting with relegation.

    Maybe someday down the line we'll be lucky enough to introduce it, but until then, let's put that idea aside.

    On a lighter note...

    A celebrity game? I'm curious to see this roster. I wonder just how many Hollywood FC names are on it.  

  4. # Blogger Joel

    ESPN's slowness in picking up on soccer's growing popularity is absolutely SHOCKING to me. I mean, do they expect this massive group of soccer-friendly immigrants to just stay in their little ESPN Deportes ghetto forever? It amazes me that they couldn't find someone more fluent in the sport, especially the Western Hemisphere's soccer scene.

    Dave O'Brien... need I say more?  

  5. # Blogger SlickBomb

    Sven, in words of Matt Damon in Dogma:

    "Mass genocide is the most physically exherting activing someone can undertake, next to soccer."

    A celebrity soccer match would make the All-Star softball game joke look like Game 7 of the World Series by comparison.

    Great job, Cardillo, as always.  

  6. # Blogger Ace Cowboy

    Can you break down my existence at work like this? I think it'd be fun...for nobody but me, but still.

    Great work, as always. Not a better yankee soccer writer on the world wide superhighway than Mr. Cardillo. Confirmed.  

  7. # Blogger Cardillo

    Just to clarify things, there is no 'celebrity game' it was a typo (of many). It's a celebrity cam. Awesome-o.

    Over/under shots of Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes? 50?  

  8. # Anonymous moin

    Overall, with the amount of truly 'world-class' players in MLS hovering around a dozen, the injection of a player like Becks is only a good thing.

    I think you need to narrow down your definitino of "world class".  

  9. # Blogger 30f

    Great post! Writing like this might slowly turn the tide if mainstream guys who wanna reflexively vomit up the same old cliches when they write their "Soccer sucks and Beckham does too" article for a paper so behind the times that they have no established policy for the correct spelling of "metrosexual." If everyone laughs and points at their lame attempts at joke making - they might slowly get the point. Maybe.  

  10. # Blogger John

    Outstanding piece. Absolutely outstanding.

    As for the comment that Beckham will (hopefully) get higher-caliber players to come to MLS, I don't necessarily disagree, but I have to think that the main thing that will bring quality players to the league would be salaries that are REMOTELY comparable to other leagues.

    I had summer jobs in college that, extended out over the course of 12 months, would have paid me more than a lot of MLS players. You're not going to get a serious influx of talent into MLS until that gets changed.  

  11. # Blogger Jimbromski

    "It's a simple game! People can figure it out. There's constant action. It's not baseball. We don't need an avalanche of stats. Show the picture. Announce the names. Easy. Let the game breathe and speak for itself."

    Well put. I never get this whole "Americans don't get soccer" thing. I always tell people the following: one team goes from right-to-left, the other goes from left-to-right, and you can't use your hands. It's not that fucking complex.  

  12. # Blogger Big Blue Monkey

    Well in, absolutely.

    My main concern, that I wrote about myself
    , which you discuss in the ESPN-ing of the product, is the attempt to make soccer into a Cult of Personality, which is (one of many) ways NASL went so wrong. And man, when it comes to fan loyalty to a franchise, Los Angeles as a city does not have a great track record.

    Also of concern is the quality of some of these foreign players. I see Blanco as being a potential disaster, and he may be the 2nd or 3rd most famous name in league when he arrives.

    As you also mention, Becks isn't the sort of flashy player who is going to win over doubters, cynics, cranks or even neophytes. He's a star for guys and girls who know how to play the game. I not looking forward to how often I'm going how to read about how little Beckham did in a game in which I saw him to be the Player of the Match.

    Anyway, like I said, well in.  

  13. # Anonymous Harry Callahan

    The American media's coverage of Paris Hilton and "Who's the father of Anna Nicole's baby?" scoffs at your assertion that we aren't as celebrity obsessed as the Brits are about Becks and Posh.

    I'm not much of an ESPN fan. It's more of a necessary evil to me because of the games they have access to. But, if soccer is ever going to gain a solid foothold in America, which I believe it can, then ESPN, for better or for worse, will have to be carrying the banner for the sport. That means getting the broadcast rights to EPL and/or La Liga, and broadcasting more European games in the US. Not just the Champions League Tuesday/Wednesday ManU or Chelsea match, but weekly league games. American fans need to see the best in the world on a regular basis and not just once every four years or once they hit 30 and their European team is no longer interested in them. I know these leagues are on Fox Soccer and Gol, but those channels are relegated to digital cable bundles or additional subscription packages on virtually all systems. People just don't have wide range access to these games.

    I've always liked Beckham and felt that he's taken a bad rap for his media coverage -- something he can't do anything about other than quit and move to Burma or something. But putting the building of a solid fan base for the sport squarely on his shoulders is too much of a burden. No matter what, this experiment will be called a failure.

    Great analysis.  

  14. # Blogger Lock

    I have to think this is going to be one of the things that pushes soccer into the legitimate "4th sport" place in America. The list:

    1. Youth playing soccer have a reasonably-stable league to watch
    2. Soccer is on every day for millions with FSC or Setanta on cable/satellite (compare this to soccer on TV when the NASL was trying)
    3. The influx of Mexicans and Central Americans into the US will give the country a very knowledgeable soccer base immediately -- if they have players they like watching.
    4. Beckham/Angel/Xavier/Blanco -- let the floodgates open.

    It's gonna work. I believe.  

  15. # Blogger Jon E.

    Good post.

    A couple thoughts. You and everybody else are dead right about the piss-poor quality of ESPN soccer coverage, and, alas, ESPN is both emblematic of and influential on the rest of American mainstream media. But then ESPN's coverage of most sports is pretty dismal. I don't have cable, but between friends and the gym, I flip past ESPN fairly often, and I'm always shocked by the high ratio of blather to games. They provide know-nothing bellow-fests about 12 hours a day, which makes even the sports that they understand seem lame and unsatisfying. I don't know why having ignoramuses on the talk shows translates into having ignoramuses in the broadcast booth, but it seems to. (And, as an aside, how can a network that will provide 8 hours of US Open golf coverage a day plus the incessant babble about it before and after complain about soccer being boring? Everybody I know uses televised golf as a soporific.)

    Slightly more on point: I'm with Sven about promotion/relegation. I actually think that MLS is smart to stick with its salary-capped, centralized strategy, at least for the short term. Once pro soccer is a given in the US, the league can consider loosening up a bit (it's already diversifying its ownership), but until then the MLS needs coherent policy and financial discipline if it hopes to get into the red. Besides, at this point, soccer isn't really deep enough in terms of talent or in terms of the national psyche for relegation/promotion to work. You need to be at least three and really five tiers deep for that to work, and the US is a couple decades away from that. (And, for what it's worth, the NBA and the NFL are two of the most successful leagues on the planet, and they're organizationally much closer to MLS than to the EPL.)  

  16. # Blogger macarthur31

    Fabulous post. That's why I come here first to get my soccer blog fix.

    In terms of Becks: At first I was meh on it, but now I'm glad he's coming. Especially since he finished as a La Liga medal winner, and returned to the England squad. Heck, I may come out to see him when he visits the Twin Cities and we see the Minnesota Thunder take a crack at da Galaxy. I also read the Wahl piece on him in this week's SI. Maybe I'm a sucker, but I actually buy into the fact that this guy really wants to blend into the locker room, and be a 'mate that invites the guys to his compound for Sunday barbecues. He had mad respect among his teammates at Real, and I can't recount too many haters of him among his past ManU teammates. (I don't recall Roy-o bitch about him, and he's got everybody's number, no?)

    In terms of prem/rel: I love it, but I also agree that we're not that deep enough yet to take it on. While I'd love to see MLS get to 20 teams, so everybody could just do a home and home so we could just get rid of "divisions", I can't imagine any owner plunking down 40-50 million for the possibility that they may be stuck playing Juneau FC the following year. I'm sure if the EPL owners had their way, they'd figure out a way to get rid of it -- but the fans would kill them.  

  17. # Blogger Jon E.

    I meant "in the black" in my comment above, of course. MLS is already accomplished at being in the red.  

  18. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Just watched ESPN2's coverage of the press conference. It happened during First Take and the host, Skip Bayless, and Pat Forde were trodding out the typical soccer sucks and Beckham's a joke lines. They were comparing the hype of Beckham to LeBron James and one of them said, (I'm paraphrasing here) "yeah, but what has Beckham done on the pitch? LeBron has done it on the court at least." Last I checked, Becks has multiple championships to LeBron's ZERO. Most MSM sports types don't get it and never will. I love soccer, been to World Cup games, watch international games on TV; but I'm a lukewarm MLS fan. I bought the Chicago Fire 3-pack after Beckham was announced. Went to one so far and had a great time even though the Fire suck. I even watched last night's debacle on ESPN2. Beckham's presence is for guys like me. Love soccer, but haven't given much time or $$$$ to MLS. I'm a convert. Will there be millions like me? We shall see.  

  19. # Blogger V-SPOT

    First off, THANK YOU for writing such an insightful post. This part here:

    "For Beckham's first match -- an exhibition with Chelsea -- they'll have isolation cameras on Beckham (ugh); a celebrity camera(double ugh), etc. Also there is a company mandate every fifth word must be 'Beckham'Can you say "Mute button"?

    This sort of coverage might turn more people off that it attracts. It is against every fiber of ESPN's being to just present a sporting event without a million useless bells and whistles. Wasn't it a pleasure to watch the U-20 US game vs. Brasil last week on ESPN since the feed was dictated by FIFA and not Bristol?

    It's a simple game! People can figure it out. There's constant action. It's not baseball. We don't need an avalanche of stats. Show the picture. Announce the names. Easy. Let the game breathe and speak for itself."

    ..had me screaming "exactly!" at my computer screen.

    Anyway, quick points:
    1. He was wanted by AC Milan and Inter Milan when LA signed him, shows that he can still cut it.

    2.We're a ways off from implementing promotion-relegation, just like when football first began in England there wasn't any promotion-relegation just small leagues of a dozen of so teams. That being said, when it becomes viable, promotion-relegation adds so much to the magic of soccer and is the only thing that can make a Sheffield-Wigan match exciting.

    3. The best thing for me about this whole deal is that it will hopefully start a trend of more world-class players coming over. Blanco and JP Angel is just the beginning...  

  20. # Anonymous Mirha

    I think David Beckham has seen his best years on the soccer field.  

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