Coming to America: The David Beckham Misadventure

In January 2007 journalists eagerly reported that world famous soccer superstar, David Beckham, was ready to take on the United States when he signed a 5-year $32.5 million contract with Major League Soccer's (MLS) Los Angeles Galaxy. Those involved in orchestrating the deal believed that Beckham's presence in the US would bring about a new popularity for soccer. However, unlike Eddie Murphy's Coming to America, Beckham's American adventure did not turn out to be a love affair, but rather a tragic story of a former star approaching the end of his career.

CNBC's "Biggest Plays in the Sports Business,"(posted below) identifies some of the biggest sports stories from the past decade, and I would have to agree with their choice of stories. However, I was asked to identify what I believed to be the biggest sports story from the past decade, and initially I came up with numerous obvious choices such as: steroids in MLB, Tiger Woods sex scandal, and Lebron's trade to Miami. Then I remembered, the often forgotten, David Beckham signing with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Beckham had already achieved international fame and stardom, and many believed he could achieve the same success in the US. . The marketing onslaught introducing Beckham to the US led to initial excitement as the Galaxy sold 1,000 season tickets the day he announced he was joining them. However, during his US debut season Beckham was plagued by injuries that sidelined him for much of the season.

The US has previously imported superstars, such as Pele and Franz Beckenbauer, which both failed to increase soccer's popularity in the US. Mark Young, former ESPN writer and all-around soccer expert, identified a difficult transition that Beckham could not make in US stating, "Beckham came to the Galaxy and he was promoted as the guy you’re all going to want to see, and that was true. But the next step from that is that he’s going to be a guy who’s going to win championships. In the United States, if you are a superstar that’s what you do. You put the team on your back and you win championships." Beckham hasn't brought any championships to the Galaxy, and the Galaxy paid a huge price to not even achieve success.

1 comment:

  1. Wow I had totally forgetten about this story - and the expectations.