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David Beckham in MLS – Good or Bad?

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With the insane amount of hype surrounding David Beckham’s debut in the MLS and America, everyone has been mezmerized by Beckham’s international stardom. Furthermore, with his lovely wife, Victoria, by his side, I don’t see how anyone could be anything but ecstatic by their arrival. However, as a result of all this, one question has been left unanwered, even by the most cynical critics. That question is whether or not the MLS’s inclusion of David Beckham is a good thing. Here’s what I think:

For Soccer:

David Beckham coming to the MLS is great for soccer. Some say that losing such a great player and star will somehow hurt the European soccer scene. But that is not going to happen. Not only is the best soccer still being played in Europe, but also the number of superstars in its respective leagues is rising daily. Yes, Beckham is a force to be reckoned with, on and off the field. But with players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldhino Gaucho, Lionel Messi and Steven Gerrard filling Beckham’s shoes, there are still plenty of quality players to captivate the soccer’s viewing public. So, no, Europe is not going to suffer. Just think if Barry Bonds left the MLB. Is he a great player? Of course! But the league wouldn’t be all that different if he were to leave. The other superstars would pick up the slack.

On the other hand, the MLS is going to benefit beyond anything it could possibly imagine. Not only is Beckham a great player on the field, but his rockstar-like popularity off of it will bring hoards of new viewers to the MLS. Opponents of this notion may say that international superstars have come to the MLS in the past, making very little impact on the progress of the MLS in America. Very true. But, usually international players who make the transition are very much past their prime. Take for instance Youri Djorkaeff, Roberto Donadoni and Lothar Mattheus. Every single one of these players was a great player in his day. But when they were in the MLS, they were over the hill. None had stellar performances in the MLS and each retired soon after arriving. Conversely, Beckham is still in his prime. Last year, due in large part to his efforts, Real Madrid won the Spanish La Liga championship. Also, in his absence from the English national team, the Three Lions suffered tremendously; something that went away upon Beckham’s return. His picture perfect cross to Peter Crouch in England’s Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia is a skillful reflection of just how good Beckham still is. You would be hard pressed to find anyone that can deliver a cross like that. So, this move is great for the MLS. They are getting a player with absolutly brilliant skill who will also bolster the league with his fame.


For Beckham:

The MLS is undoubtedly going to benefit from this move, but will Beckham benefit as well? Well, yes and no. His wallet is definitely not going barren anytime soon, what with the 5-year, $250 million contract he signed with the LA Galaxy (something that has not gone unnoticed by his wife “Posh Spice” who is known for living up to her ritzy name). Moreover, his children will probably benefit as well. While England is by no means a country in dire straits, the US is the most powerful country in the world and offers its citizens countless opportunities. Growing up in America will allow the Beckham children every chance they could ever want.

However, in terms of his career, David Beckham made the wrong move. As previously mentioned, Beckham is still as skillful as ever. And let’s face it, the MLS is an inferior league to the giants in Europe. So, I feel, as do many serious soccer fans, that Beckham’s introduction to the MLS is sort of a slap in the face. It is just sad. He is simply too good for the MLS. Imagine if Michael Jordan had left the NBA after his 6th successive NBA title to play in the Italian basketball league. Murmurs of “say it ain’t so” would be heard all around the country. A similar situation is unfolding in Europe. European soccer fans cannot believe that Beckham would stoop to the MLS’s level. Honestly, it is kind of pathetic.

So, is Beckham in the MLS a good thing or a bad thing? Both. It just depends on how you look at it. It is great for the MLS. And it is even good for Beckham to a certain extent. But, as far as his career is concerned, David Beckham’s swan song has come prematurely.

Nishan Wilde is VP of Sales at Robbins Sports and Athletics, an online resource for Track Uniforms, Basketball Uniforms, Gym Bags and Portable Scoreboards.