Rescinded Red

Oh the media monkeys and their junket junkies will invite you to their plastic pantomime. Throw their invites away.

Beckham Isn’t a Farce. Only People Who Pontificate About Him.

david-beckham-airport09David Beckham, to lukewarm fanfare, moved to A.C. Milan on loan for two months, upsetting many in the American Soccer Community.  The Beckham experiment has had its problems, but, surely, it’s not worthy of shortsighted vitriol like this.

Mr. Gardner terms Beckham a “farce” and “on every count.”  He deems this so obvious “there’s no need to labor all those points.”  Nevertheless, he manages to do so for nearly 1,000 words.

First, we have the topic of Beckham’s loan to AC Milan.  His justification for the loan was clear.  He wants to play for England.  Fabio Capello would not select Beckham unless he was playing football.  He had the opportunity to go to a top-level European club during the interim.  He went.  Does this make Landon Donovan a “farce,” as well?

Beckham, like most players, enjoys representing the national team.  Offered the chance to play a useful role, he chose to do so.  There’s nothing “relentless” or “sycophantic” about it.  Selfish, maybe.  But how is it servile?  

He does miss MLS time because of it, but so does every MLS player who plays internationally.  It’s not Beckham’s fault that MLS does not follow international breaks.  It’s also not his fault that FIFA favors the country in club versus country disputes.  Beckham has flown cross-country and played immediately, despite fitness risks, on occasion, to mitigate that effect.

David Beckham has the right to play for England, if he chooses.  If called up, he should play.

Then we move to Beckham’s broader role in MLS.  His primary task was to make the league money and increase its exposure.  He has done both.

Mr. Gardner dismissively mentions “marketing and shirt-selling.” These aren’t savory aspects of the sport, but, unfortunately, professional leagues are a business and salaries aren’t paid in good will and fairy dust.

Beckham is not just selling shirts.  He’s sold about half-a-million shirts, more than any other athlete in the world, in any sport.  It’s probably safe to assume LA Galaxy wouldn’t be moving that kind of product without him.  Neither would they have the $4-5 million per year shirt sponsorship deal with Herbalife.

He’s raised attendance both home and away, allowing the Galaxy to sell out games and guaranteeing over 10,000 tickets sold on the road.

Viewership ratings haven’t been great.  However, ESPN’s ratings spike 150% when Beckham plays.  ESPN also now pays MLS for the rights to televise games, and the league just sold foreign TV rights for a ten-figure sum.  No one would pay that unless the league’s exposure, popularity and interest abroad had increased.

The Galaxy also profits from using Beckham as a wedge to play lucrative friendlies in foreign markets.  Australians and New Zealanders probably wouldn’t be jazzed about seeing a Beckham-less Galaxy.

The club made an estimated $13 million, more than his MLS salary for the first two seasons, before he had even arrived.  He’s making the league money, increasing its value and exposure.

Regarding his play on the pitch, he’s still one of eleven players.  Beckham didn’t hire Alexi Lalas to run the Galaxy.  The team had a failed coaching hire and a dearth of talent, outside Landon Donovan, supporting Beckham.  If anything, it is a testament to the league’s quality that one player, alone, can’t dominate it.

Finally, Gardner argues that Beckham is “actively damaging MLS” by not praising it enough.  The apparent evidence is that Beckham said he missed playing “at the highest level” when he was unveiled at Milan.  

What is Beckham supposed to say?  MLS is obviously not the highest level of world soccer.  Anyone who argues that it is on par in quality with the top European leagues is, to be frank, a dumbass.  He’s shaken hands, done interviews, kissed babies and done everything MLS asked him to do.  He would do more “active damage” to the league by being effusively dishonest in his praise of it.

Beckham hasn’t been happy losing at LA Galaxy.  What right-minded player, particularly one who played for the world’s two biggest clubs and won seven domestic titles and the Champions League, would be happy?  He hasn’t demanded a transfer.  He hasn’t whined to the media.  He’s been a good soldier.  He stated publicly he will return for the start of the MLS season.  What more can be asked of him?

David Beckham’s move to America has not been what it was hyped to be.  But, much of that hype was irrational and stupid.  

It’s foolish to term Beckham’s move a complete success.  But, it is equally foolish to deny the good things he has done for the league.  In order for MLS to become a stable, long-term presence and develop into a player internationally, it needs to be profitable.  There is no doubt that the increased revenue and exposure from David Beckham, has prodded MLS toward that goal.

Just because you don’t like David Beckham does not mean you can credibly call him a “farce” and impose sinister motives on him without justification.

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Filed under: Football, MLS, Soccer, , ,

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