7/26/07

MLS: David Beckham Beyond the Hype

David Beckham Beyond the HypeWhen MLS signed David Beckham to the biggest player contract in league history last January, the goal was to get the American sporting public to sit up and take notice. Based on what has happened since his official introduction on July 13, MLS is probably quite happy with the results. Stories about Beckham, his celebrity wife, and his impact on the sport of soccer in the US have abounded in the mainstream media. Soccer fans finally could recognize how it feels to have their sport covered the way the other big American sports are covered.

The hype machine started up in earnest at Beckham’s unveiling and reached blast-furnace status last Saturday at the Home Depot Center when the LA Galaxy met Chelsea FC in a friendly match. A nagging ankle injury put Beckham’s participation in the match in question, adding another Hollywood-type wrinkle to the madness. Even though it was clear that Beckham would start the match on the bench, all 27,000 fans in the stadium were keeping tabs on his every move. And those watching at home took advantage of ESPN’s Beckham Cam, whose job it was to ensure that all things Beckham were comprehensively recorded. Even Beckham’s stroll from the locker room to the bench became a news item. A mob of hundreds of photographers and cameramen walked alongside Beckham as he made his way to the bench, creating a nightmare for security guards and leaving the other Galaxy players bemused by all of the attention suddenly being paid to their sport.

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