Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Says it all, really

I think it's telling that this article in The Times of London about American soccer fans' hostile reaction a a certain overhyped fraud was filed not in the paper's football section but under Life Style > Women > Celebrity.


Luke said...

He was never going to make it in America. He took his celebrity for granted and I don't think he ever really understood how irrelevant he was going to be to American sports fans. Most Americans simply don't care about soccer, and even fewer care about Beckham. And he though he was going to be on the level of Lebron James or Alex Rodriguez? C'mon.

Brian said...

I think you miss what's most telling about Beckham.

He is the most famous celebrity athlete in the world, no question, even though he was never at any point in his career the best soccer player in the world. He could've had more of an impact here if he'd focused on playing and selling soccer, rather than just himself.

He came here with the purported goal of converting two groups of Americans into Major League Soccer (MLS) fans. I say purported because his goal was always to make money for himself and to increase interest here only for the purpose of helping the soccer related businesses here he already owned. It was the league that wanted him to grow it and paid him handsomely for it.

Those two groups were those who liked sports but not soccer and those who liked soccer but not MLS (primarily those who followed only the Mexican or European leagues).

What's telling about the fraud that is Beckham is that not only did he spectacularly fail to convert those two groups, but he managed to alienate people who were ALREADY fans of MLS. Many of us MLS fans resent how he's sucked all the oxygen out of the league and how coverage of it is now all Becks, all the time... even from outlets that used to offer broader coverage of the league. Personally, I refuse to watch any Los Angeles match (unless they're playing my team) because I know the announcers will yammer incessantly on about Beckham.

The irony is that other lower profile (in the titilating media's eyes) and far less richly paid foreigners have added far more quality to the league and done far more to grow the fan base.

MLS is growing despite Beckham and his $250 million over 5 years deal, not because of him.

The key to understanding this mess is not that he's made himself irrelevant to the typical American sports fan, but that he's made himself irrelevant to people who are already soccer and MLS fans. That's not just an ordinary failure, it's a spectacular one.

Luke said...

True. For what it's worth though, I do think he has at the very least gotten MLS into the international football conversation. Football fans in Europe are now more aware of the league because of the attention Beckham has brought to the Galaxy. None of this attention has focused on actual soccer, but it has at least gotten the MLS on the map I guess. This could make MLS clubs more viable in getting other Europeans to transfer over. I still think this 'Beckham experiment' can be salvaged though if he swallows his ego, plays great, and tries putting more attention on the league than himself. All he seems to care about right now is getting into England's World Cup squad though. Very selfish.

Brian said...

I don't mind that he wants to play for his country in the World Cup. I don't mind that he wants to play for one of the most prestigious clubs in the world (Milan). I don't mind that he wants to make a lot of money. What I object to is his insulting our intelligence with this spreading the gospel of soccer in America b.s. when his actions clearly show that this is not an iota of concern of his.