Saturday, January 13, 2007

America Beckhams

Betty is inspired by the goodwill and ambitions for American soccer that David Beckham is expressing to the press. When was the last time a pro athlete was in a position to make a difference on behalf of the sport that gave him everything, and embraced this inherently stressful position with total openness, humility, and honest high hopes and plans to alter the consciousness of his new homeland? Even if this never happens, we like how he's talking.

By joining the L.A. Galaxy, Beckham aligns himself with a mediocre franchise in a league searching for respect and identity. In the past, Betty and Bimbo have been soccer fans only every four years, or when travelling abroad, but now we will start paying attention to Beckham and his American reception - and by extention, to the existence of Major League Soccer. Won't you? The stakes are high and the dramatic potential - for feeding frenzies, for run-ins, for spikes and lulls, for scandal, for culture shock, for California cliches, for tangible triumphs on the field and at the box office and for off-field hijinks - is hot. If only one or two of these possibilities come true in the next few years, we'll surely be riveted and made more soccer-literate.

''I'm not saying me coming over to the States is going to make soccer the biggest sport in America. That would be difficult to achieve,'' Beckham said. ''Baseball, basketball, American football, they've been around. But I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think I could make a difference.''

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