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Friday, January 12, 2007

Beckham is Soccer

That's right, I said it! The MLS is finally major. ("Yeah, major crap!," I hear the majority of this department saying.) You are all wrong. This league is being managed tremendously, and bending the rules for Beckham was a key move for its future. In case you didn't know:

Back in November 2006, the MLS changed its rules on salary caps. Each of the 13 teams could now add 1 player outside of the $2 million per team salary cap. (The league pays the first $400K of this player's contract.) It was already known as the "Beckham Rule" before he signed with the L.A. Galaxy for a reported $250 million dollars on Thursday.

Oh, but you did know. You may not all be soccer fans, but you knew. ("But that doesn't mean we'll watch!") Oh yes, you will. This is not another Freddy Ad-Who moment. Beckham is proven. This is not another NASL (North American Soccer League) brings in Beckenbauer moment. Beckham's not at his peak, but he's still got a few good years left. Plus, he should flourish in the American game/system. But this is not about his play on the field, long-term especially. Sure the L.A. Galaxy's already sold 1,000 extra season tickets since news came out, but they were one of the few profitable teams and he won't be on the field when Colombus plays Chicago. So why is this move so important?

Does this move give the U.S. and MLS international credibility? Absolutely not...yet. But it puts us in the spotlight domestically and internationally. Does it give young American boys (and girls - see Bend It Like Beckham) a role model? Absolutely. Soccer is still has the least barrier to play - all you need is a ball; it rewards smarts and creativity; and it's all about teamwork, so parents will still push their kids into the program. Now, with the promise of fame, they stay. It will encompass the perfect balance of individual and group recognition. Plus, great hairstyles not on year-delay.

We need a soccer-player celebrity...and not just every 4 years. He'll be adopted as our own—appearing on the red carpet(s) (with, don't forget, his ex-Spice Girl wifey) and Extra's of our nation. This entertainment value (I'm not the first to say he's a brand) should not be underestimated. We're talking about more Sportscenter highlights, more soccer jerseys as a fashion statement, more soccer as a means to an ends, more converts. He'll bring a needed boost to the MLS that gets the next Brian McBride, Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Mathis, Bobby Convey, DaMarcus Beasley, and Clint Dempsey to stay!

It's not about how he plays the game. It's about his commitment to helping grown U.S. soccer. As he says, "I've played now for two of the biggest clubs in the world and played at the highest level for 15 years, and now I think that I need another challenge." His challenge, which he has and will continue to take on whole-heartedly, is developing this sport, so our country and this league can compete globally. He's already got his soccer academy at the Home Depot Center there.

Soccer better encompasses the global spirit of the American dream than any other sport out there. Thank you, Britain...for Beckham.

Note: Though the sport is oft-compared to a religion, this has been purposely avoided since BeckPosh have been spending a lot of time with TomKat recently. Furthermore, considering a change in the league's name has been left to later discussion after realizing first-go—U.S. Soccer League—would produce a less sexy acronym that may set us up for failure.


AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

Aight, I may become a believer...and a viewer.

But the wildcard on this is whether the sinful delights and temptations of Los Angeles will let a brotha keep his eye on the damn ball, and not go ballin' every night with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Paris Hilton and Lindsey 'The Firecrotch" Lohan.

That is a big-ass paycheck. This fool betta deliver some results.

El Gaffney said...

The wildcard is his health. As long as he doesn't get injured (only played 5 games for Real Madrid last season I think) and actually plays most of the game, we're good. If he throws up, it's a great domestic story that links to an even better international one (World Cup), and the UK press can fuel the debate. By the time he goes Kobe, we'll have our version of Lebron. Come back Clint!

Anonymous said...

It's all just so he and Posh can be a little more Hollywood and find ways to spend their loot ;-)

El Gaffney said...

Of course, they both love cars and she wants to be an actress. But it is also a great move for the MLS. Win-win. He clearly transcends the sport, probably the most famous athlete in the world, (and don't forget she's a celeb as well), the foreign press will follow them here and our celeb-obsessed culture will eat them up. By selling out the stadiums in which he plays, he'll expose new people to soccer. More importantly though people will talk about him in MLS context, going to a pro soccer game will be cool for families who care that it's now popular, and people will continue to debate his merit as a soccer player vs. just celeb (Kournikova-style but x1million).