12 January 2007

He's Coming to America

I wonder if this is front page news over in the States, the way that it is here? I bet not.

David Beckham has signed a contract with the LA Galaxy (of MLS fame), making him the highest-paid footballer in the world, and the highest-paid sports figure in the US. I also wonder how the story will be covered elsewhere. Here, the framing for the piece is straightforward. For example:
the move signals the end of his career as a footballer of significance
This will be the repeated them: Beckham is done, his career is over - no chance to make it back onto the England squad, no chance to have any real impact. Of course, it's easy to tell the story this way, because it fits with the narrative already in place. Nothing is more popular in Britain than bashing on Beckham, both in terms of his celebrity status but also in terms of his presumed lack of ability on the pitch. I'm still very ignorant about football, but I actually thought Beckham was the most valuable player for England during the World Cup. I don't think he was England's best player, but his set-up abilities seemed to provide something to the team that no one eslse had - and he clearly had an impact on the games.

I can't help but be reminded of the stories when Wayne Gretzsky left the home of hockey in Canada to go to LA. The analogy has its limits since Gretzsky was still playing NHL hockey, and no football fan in Europe is going to consider the MLS a 'real league'. Still, Gretzsky surprised people (his hat trick in game 7 of the seminfinals, against Toronto ('93 I thnk), might have been his best single-game performance), and I wonder if Beckham might not do so as well.

1 comment:

Number Three said...

I was off from the day job yesterday (thus all the reading), so I had ESPN Radio on while I puttered around the house. The Beckham story was the top story, or one of them, on at least 2 programs. The narrative was a little different--over here, it was that Becks can't vitalize (not re-vitalize) the sport of soccer in the U.S. because that is impossible. Also, there was discussion of the Spice spouse.