Saturday, January 13, 2007

"I'm Doing It For the Kids"

"Are you ready for some football? Err, no."

So sayeth David "Becks" Beckham, on his 5 year, $250M contract to play professional soccer in Los Angeles, where not coincidentally he and his faded pop starlet wife can get their names in the entertainment pages. Apparently, the man whose business advice Becks - we nicknamed my sister "Becks", for God's sake - asked on the deal was none other than Tom Cruise. Memo to the fading footballer - Tom's not really the guy you want to talk to about career trajectory right now, not unless there's a couch-jumping aspect to soccer that my youth-league coaches failed to instruct me about.

We have, of course, seen this before - google "Pele" and "Cosmos" and "NASL" if you doubt me. Fading international superstars taking big checks to bust open the door for soccer in America? Not a new idea. It's going to catch one of these days, if for no other reason than the relentless marketing of the sport by the networks in hopes of creating another sports cash cow, but I'm not quite sure Posh and Becks are the ones to really usher in the age of international football in America. For one thing, Beckham never was much of a scorer. He's a passer, the metrosexual equivalent of John Stockton, and nobody outside the Jazz fanbase ever went gaga for that. For another, he's slowing down, and a past-his-prime footie Maurice Cheeks isn't going to light the world on fire, not even in L.A., not even with a tabloid-friendly wife.

Which brings me to the quote that inspired this whole mess. Yammering on Cold Pizza, Beckham talked about how important it was for him to be part of kids' lives in the US, and what a great honor it was to be opening up soccer in the United States, blah blah blah. Dana Jacobson (who, were I not married, would be #2 on my list of "Really Attractive, Possibly Jewish Female Sports Reporters I Would Be Obsessing Over" - not that this is actually pertinent, but most other sports bloggers seem to feel compelled to discuss their celebrity crushes, and I didn't want to be behind the curve) then tossed the platitudes right back at him with the simple question - then you'd be willing to do this for half the money, right? Beckham, caught, giggled and said he couldn't answer that.

Which, really, is all the answer that was needed. He's here to fleece the American rubes, to take the money and jump-start an acting career or two, and there's really no other reason for him to be here. Soccer in America will live and die without David Beckham and without the wave of washed-up international stars sure to follow him chasing the money. And David Beckham will get to watch the results - not cause them - from on top of a giant pile of money.
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