Beckham vs. Pele
First off, to those of you that don't care about football (as I will refer to it throughout this post) or prefer that American sport where you throw an oblong brown object and rest after every play to catch your breath, feel free to skip out on this one.
I heard about this plan of Beckham's to finish out his career in the States a while back, but I didn't expect it to be coming this soon... and yes I know this is soooo last week, but gimme a break as I wasn't around. So the headline says it - Beckham has signed a contract meaning he's no longer playing for Real Madrid and will be coming Stateside to play for the LA Galaxy starting in June.
So what does all this mean? Anything really? Some people are trying to liken this to Pele's attempt to make REAL football as popular in the US as the other major sports and take the position it has elsewhere in the world, and others equate it to little more then a publicity stunt with a price tag as inflated as the clothes and cologne and stuff that he sells. And I mean, who can blame the detractors? This is the guy that married a Spice Girl named "Posh" and throws away his cleats for a new pair after every match. He's not in his prime, so how much of an impact he'll make on the level of play has yet to be seen. To me he's really more of a face and a name than a player - he's the world's posterboy for football. A famous player from England who recently passed away, George Best had this to say about Beckham's ability:
"He cannot kick with his left foot, he cannot head a ball, he cannot tackle and he doesn't score many goals. Apart from that he's all right."So all that being said, I think he can and most likely will have an impact. He's not the best in the world, but he does play internationally and is better than a good majority of the league in the US. Moreso than that though, the hope is that he's setting a precedent for other international players to follow. But the much more famous Pele tried the same thing back in the 70's in the NASL (North American Soccer League), which eventually failed in the early 80's. Really, Pele back then paved the way for Beckham today, so maybe (hopefully) this is all it'll take to take football to the next level in the US. At this point, I'm sceptical but hopeful, as I know that most people in the US still really don't care.
There are just so many sports going on in the US right now that it's hard to say which ones are prevalent - I mean, despite the flagrant lack of right turns NASCAR is actually one of the most popular sports, especially depending on where you go. It's hard to compare football across the world, which is arguably the biggest sport worldwide, to soccer in the US as there's just so much competition: NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, NASCAR, and now MLS. Personally if given the choice, I would choose to watch British Premier League or Italy Serie over MLS, but I'll still watch a match if it's on and hopefully things will start to get more exciting now and encourage more people will come out to our side of the world to play... or not go to Europe/Brazil.
All in all I see it as a good thing, although it would be nice if we got some better talent as opposed to simply a well-known face. If football gained more popularity in the US, it'd be good for the game worldwide. The more big names, the higher the level of the game becomes on the global scale.