Friday, January 12, 2007

Girlfriend guest blogs on Becks! TPV exclusive!

My girlfriend, Nicki, is pretty wound up about David Beckham coming to the US to play for the "LA Galaxy," which is the gayest name for a sports team ever. Then again, Becks is pretty gay. In any event, here's her lengthy, somewhat rambling but highly entertaining screed -- might want to grab a cup of coffee or take shot before you get going.

La La Land

Beckham the deity is not enough for soccer (it kills me to call it soccer, its FOOTBALL, and its called FOOTBALL because you play it with your FEET) to catch on in the United States.

Becks will be earning:

$256 Million over 5 years
…or $51.2 Million a year
…or $4.2 Million a month
…or $100,000 a week
…or $14,000 a day

Yet Becks insisted he was NOT moving to America for the cash — but for the challenge of converting its kids to soccer. Yeah right.

David Beckham’s move to the LA Galaxies, coincidentally a day after Real Madrid refused to renew his contract because he is rubbish, will impact the quality of U.S. soccer in the same way that Brett Favre moving to NFL Europe would. It will temporarily raise the profile of the game, but the elevated profile won’t last and his mere presence will not improve the quality of soccer in the long run.

Becks’ move is basically an acknowledgment that the standard of U.S. soccer is low. He isn’t good enough at soccer to make any money out of it in Europe, but he is mediocre enough to play soccer in the U.S. and make a pile of cash from his celebrity status. There is something creepy and indicative of U.S. culture that the U.S. is where previously talented people come to sell out, making a ton of cash being advertising whores. First Pelé, now Becks, and I guarantee more will follow. Arson Wenger, the Arsenal manager, who has made his reputation nurturing young talent rather than making big money signings, said that "Football will only take off (in America) if Beckham's not the only one," Wenger said Friday. "You need a few. Is that the opening road for more to come? A real influx of quality players will be needed if you want to create a big lift for American football. One player will not be enough." Maybe quality players will follow, but I think it will just be the old sellouts, not the real talent that will follow Becks to the U.S.

You will see more of Becks in adverts for Fox Sports, Adidas sneakers (they are called TRAINERS because you train in them, your don’t SNEAK in them), Pantene Shampoo, Gatorade etc. that you will see of him taking killer free kicks or curling in corners. He is going to be on more adverts that Peyton Manning (though I would rather see Becks hatch naked from some weird Gatorade egg than Manning). The LA Galaxies didn’t pay that much money for real talent; if they genuinely wanted to be great soccer team they would spend their money on younger more talented players and building a youth training program (see Manchester United as a good a case of why this works). They bought Beckham the brand, Beckham the circus, Posh and Becks the package, to make money out of him. Becks in an advertising whore and the LA Galaxies just got a fat share of that by becoming his official pimp. They basically paid for everything that has made him so disliked in Europe and argued has detrimentally affected his actual football skills.

Becks is like TO in the sense that his mind is elsewhere and that affects his play. TO’s mind is focused on imaginative ways to kill himself and undressing his team mates with his eyes, and consequently he drops balls. Becks’ mind has been on the 12 different costume changes he’s going to make at TomKat’s wedding, and consequently he hasn’t been as focused or driven as he was before he became a fashionista, a celebrity and a deity.

Becks has been notorious for missing practice to prance around in a skirt at Paris fashion week or to go and open a Sushi bar in Tokyo. Even the NY Times comments “…the United States’ top professional soccer league will try to cash in on his celebrity appeal — and perhaps that of his wife, Victoria, the former Posh Spice of the Spice Girls pop group.” They paid all that money for some washed out failed pop star package, way to go LA Galaxies, really raising the quality of soccer. You would think Becks’ soccer contract was negotiated by a sports agent, but no, no, no, in true Becks style the deal was brokered by none other than Simon Fuller of Pop Idol fame and CEO of 19 Entertainment. I kid you not.

Becks’ move is great for US Weekly devotees, LA Galaxies jersey sales and Beckham’s bank balance, but in the long term sets a bad trend of the soccer celebrities on the downswings of their careers coming to the U.S. to sell out. This influx of has-beens will do little to actually improve the quality and little to increase the fan base of soccer in the U.S.

Soccer is so different to beloved American sports. Soccer is slower paced, 0-0 draws are permitted and the offside rule suffocates high scores. The only way the MLS can stand a chance of matching the big European soccer leagues and attracting young Americans away from baseball, basketball and football in to spend money on real talent and youth training programs.

I’ll put my skepticism aside and say finally that if Becks uses one or two of his millions to open up football academies (he already has one in California, and was himself the product of the Manchester-United-Youth-Training-Machine) and gives some kids in the U.S. a soccer star role model to look up to when they are practicing, then I will seethe a little less when he and his dumbass wife are splashed across my television, magazines, computer screen...

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