FanDuel - WFBC

January 11, 2007

Beckham makes it official.: He'll move from Real Madrid to the LA Galaxy this summer. What impact will this have on MLS and the state of the game in America? Can Becks conquer even a disinterested America?

posted by trox to soccer at 10:15 AM - 74 comments

I am not a fan of soccer. I have limited knowledge of the sport. Congrats to Mr. Beckham. I still won't be a fan of soccer. I don't think he will sway many people who share my opinion about soccer. From what I know about him, he is past his prime. Hard to get excited about a guy past his prime.

posted by danjel at 10:20 AM on January 11

128 million pounds (= US$248,639,753.39 today) over five years. Well played, Mr Posh Spice, well played indeed.

posted by worldcup2002 at 10:34 AM on January 11

I wondered how such a deal might have been allowed under salary-cap rules. Well, the article's last paragraph nails it:

A move to America would not have been possible under previous MLS salary cap rules, which limited teams to an overall salary of about £1m per year, but a new designated player rule, already commonly known in America as "the Beckham rule", now allows each team to sign one player whose salary does not count towards that cap.
Nice.

posted by worldcup2002 at 10:38 AM on January 11

blink... 128 million pounds? So he'll be making more money than Jordan ever did? (I believe previously the highest paid American athlete ever.) By nearly a factor of two? That is batshit insane. There is no way he can be worth it. No way.

posted by tieguy at 10:50 AM on January 11

Beyond that, I watched a couple of games Real Madrid games this year where Becks played. He can't take over games like he could 4-5 years ago, but he definitely has a lot left in the tank. This probably isn't the second coming of Pele or anything in terms of impact, but he's definitely a crossover star who will bring more than a few new fans into the sport.

posted by psmealey at 10:54 AM on January 11

And I might add that even in his prime, Becks wasn't the kind of player who would have impressed American audiences. What MLS needs is an Iverson; they got a Nash- great, and makes the players around him better, but not flashy in a way that puts butts in seats or eyeballs on TV.

posted by tieguy at 10:58 AM on January 11

I think Beckham still has that potential at the MLS level, but I agree that he's not the flashiest of players. Maybe Zidane could be enticed to play a couple of seasons in NY. From what we still in last year's World Cup, he's definitely still got what you're talking about. Otherwise, you're talking about a Ronaldinho or Cristiano Ronaldo, and I don't think MLS will have the money (or the prestige) to attract players of that level (in their primes) for another decade or so.

posted by psmealey at 11:05 AM on January 11

this is huge news, undoubtedly for the sports market here in los angeles, which already doesnt have an nfl football program.

posted by phaedon at 11:11 AM on January 11

I'm thinking he'll make more impact in the awareness of the sport than he will on the field. While he's certainly not a has-been, I agree that his particular skills aren't as flashy as some of the other names mentioned. He will, however, sell a lot of shirts, be in a lot of commercials, and get a lot more games on ESPN--all of which are good for the league as a whole, no matter what he brings on the field. Now, do you think Donovan will be able to get his head on Beckham's crosses?

posted by trox at 11:20 AM on January 11

This is already front page new on yahoo! I don't know what to think about Beckham coming to the States. From a footballing standpoint, there's probably not another player who can strike a dead ball consistently as well as Beckham. He does seem to look after himself and after a season of starting maybe a dozen games for Real Madrid, he should be well rested. My concern is what he will do for the game here, not just attendance and shirt sales, but the actual growth of the game. Can he bring young athletes into the fold other than those in the lilly-white suburbs? Can he make an impact on keeping these young ones playing soccer past their twelfth birthday? Is this issue on his radar at all, or does he just want to cash-in, become a movie star and not concern himself with other matters? He does have his Academy, but I wonder if it's in the business plan to do charitable coaching/teams/leagues in neighborhoods where hope is just a dream itself. Here's hoping Beckham, with all his money and iconic stature, can become the Bono of the footballing world.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 11:27 AM on January 11

I think Beckham to Galaxy is a decent move but, despite the deal including various marketing and promotional rights and probably pushing the Galaxy back into the top tier, cannot possibly be worth $50M per annum. Even if the team gets $20M a year from selling his shirts and other stuff and another $5-10M in increased sales generally it still leaves a gap as large as the wages for every other player on the squad. I hesitate to be a Downbeat Donny but this smacks of NASL madness just when it seemed Garber and Friends were crossing a threshold, after 11 years of (mostly) staying within their means and building the business (mostly) competently. Moving Earthquakes to Houston aside ;) Worse, they are getting this global PR boost now but Beckham won't be wearing the shirt until August and presumably they will not be allowed to sell his shirt until the Real contract expires. Ditto about the wage comparison to Jordan too.

posted by billsaysthis at 12:55 PM on January 11

I agree with billsaysthis -- no way this is a money-maker for L.A., unless somehow the rest of the league is subsidizing this in some way with the hopes that this will increase the prestige, exposure and, ultimately, revenues of the league as a whole.

posted by holden at 01:00 PM on January 11

As was mentioned before, his arrival in SoCal won't have too much of an impact on soccer's appeal to non-fans. It will, however, have a big impact when it comes to having to see him all over TV shows, entertainment shows, advertisments, etc. It's his looks and name people want to make money on (via advertising, appearances), not so much his soccer exploits.

posted by dyams at 01:02 PM on January 11

He's going to be on every show, at every opening, every everything for a while, just you watch. You're going to be sick of every guest-star slot on Two And A Half Men and Wheel Of Fortune and Alias or whatever. He'll be the king of Hollywood, or Pat O'Brien'll die trying to get him there. His wife will help as well. That's why they're paying him A-Rod money. If he puts a ball or two in the net, more to the good, and if he can teach Landon Donovan how to be an Ambassador For The Sport, then that's another attraction. Best case scenario? This signing is the beginning of many more headlines for the sport in the U.S., and MLS joins the other major sports at the front of the line. This could very easily happen. The worst case scenario? David Beckham becomes the Mario Lemieux of soccer.

posted by chicobangs at 01:12 PM on January 11

a gap as large as the wages for every other player on the squad Actually, given the two million per team salary cap, the gap will actually be as large as the wages of the entire rest of the league. It is a pretty safe bet that this contract is larger than the sum of all previous player contracts in the entire history of the league.

posted by tieguy at 01:48 PM on January 11

From a footballing standpoint, there's probably not another player who can strike a dead ball consistently as well as Beckham. Oh I dunno, if I had to choose, I think I'd take a Ronaldinho free kick over a Beckham bender any day of the week.

posted by sic at 02:05 PM on January 11

The worst case scenario? David Beckham becomes the Mario Lemieux of soccer. chico -- can you elaborate on what you mean by this?

posted by holden at 02:16 PM on January 11

Beckham better be one heck of a soccer player to recieve $50 million per year. I really have no idea how good (or bad) Beckham is but paying that much money for one player just seems stupid.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 02:18 PM on January 11

The $250M isn't quite clear. It's not that LA is paying $250M per season. My understanding is that in Europe, Beckham didn't own his own image rights, whereas in the US, he will. So this $250M is likely counting endorsements and whatnot. And when it's viewed like that, it's much less ridiculous (but still somewhat ridiculous). This msnbc story lists the world's best paid athletes, counting salaries, winnings, and endorsements. For comparison, Tiger earned $87M last year.

posted by blarp at 02:22 PM on January 11

250 million? Yeah right. Becks, welcome to the North American version of sporting "contracts"; where no one is really bound by the deal, it is likely back-loaded to a point each side knows it will never run its' advertised course, and some factitious bloated number (like "quarter billion") is thrown around to attract attention. If he actually makes anywhere near 250 million by the end of this deal, Becks will be known as "they guy that killed the Galaxy". They will go belly-up in three years.

posted by r8rh8r27 at 02:53 PM on January 11

where no one is really bound by the deal, it is likely back-loaded to a point each side knows it will never run its' advertised course, and some factitious bloated number (like "quarter billion") is thrown around to attract attention. It's really not much different abroad.

posted by psmealey at 03:01 PM on January 11

presumably they will not be allowed to sell his shirt until the Real contract expires. LOL You can get it right now for 64.99 at FoxSoccerShop.com ;)

posted by r8rh8r27 at 03:08 PM on January 11

Hey,l love Ronaldinho,but there is no way in hell he is as good at free kicks as Beckham. Definitely one of the best ever at free kicks!

posted by muggsy at 03:15 PM on January 11

No, he won’t make a difference. Another soccer star closer to the end than the beginning makes the journey to the USA. Organized soccer is a it’s-lots-of-fun-and-safe-for-the-kids-too-not-like-Pop-Warner-plus-everybody-gets-to-play kind of sport in the US. That’s not quite how the rest of the world views or plays the game. If all the Latinos who are playing soccer in the parks in Southern California on Sunday mornings can take over USA soccer… His wife will make a bigger splash. Move over Paris and Lindsay. Rodeo Drive stores, start your engines!

posted by Newbie Walker at 03:55 PM on January 11

Reaction of the majority of American sports fans. ***Yawn*** Not me personally, I enjoy soccer but many, if not most, in America just feel it is boring.

posted by scottypup at 04:13 PM on January 11

250 million? Yeah right. Becks, welcome to the North American version of sporting "contracts"; where no one is really bound by the deal, it is likely back-loaded to a point each side knows it will never run its' advertised course, and some factitious bloated number (like "quarter billion") is thrown around to attract attention. Of the four "major" sports in North America, the NHL*, MLB and NBA have guaranteed contracts. That means, barring a mutual dissolution of the contract or breach by one side or the other, the money is paid out in full. The NFL contract situation is not guaranteed, which is why large portions of it are given in "signing bonuses" (money up front). I'm not sure how the MLS handles contracts, but in 3/4 of the leagues (to my knowledge), he'd receive the money due to him. Whether it is backloaded and deferred is a different matter, but the amount (in 2007 bucks) would be owed to Beckham. * There is a buyout option for some NHL contracts where the player is given about 75% of his remaining contract in one lump sum in order for the team to avoid the salary cap hit. However, the player is then a (virtual) free agent and can sign with (almost) any team (except the original team).

posted by grum@work at 04:35 PM on January 11

Not me personally, I enjoy soccer but many, if not most, in America just feel it is boring. Given the (increasing) immigrant population, I'd be surprised if many, many more people watch soccer/football than you suspect. Whether they watch the lower-tier version (MLS) than the UEFA leagues or World Cup is a different matter.

posted by grum@work at 04:37 PM on January 11

I was going to leave a smart-ass post about how many seats Becks might fill in relation to present attendance numbers, but upon doing some homework, was shocked. The Galaxy already bring almost 22,000 per outing at the HD center, a pretty impressive number. If Becks can put 5,000 more asses in the seats to make every game a sellout, the face of soccer in America might change drastically. Can it hurt the game to have a high profile player with movie star good looks and a famous (notorious?) wife playing in a glamour obsessed city? If Gretzky, without the looks, can change the face of hockey in L.A., certainly Beckham can do the same for soccer.

posted by tahoemoj at 05:24 PM on January 11

well, he's definitely having an impact in jersey already. my red bulls ticket* rep called (yes, i have my own rep. his name is brian). people have been calling in all day, signing up for ticket packages so they can request tickets for the galaxy game. unfortunately the schedules aren't out yet. hopefully (for the red bulls) they'll play LA after he arrives. *yes, i bought season tickets today. but no, it wasn't because of beckham, i had been planning on getting them for a while now.

posted by goddam at 06:01 PM on January 11

The Beckham signing will be the demise of MLS. There is one exemption per team that does not count against the salary cap. With one exemption per team there will be other huge signings forthcoming. The salary cap was set in place so the league could get stable and keep operating, unlike the old NASL. Alone his salary could cripple the struggling league, multiply that by 12 more signings. To put it in perspective, there are around 300 active players in MLS. Beckham will make more money than all 300 of them combined. Man would I like to be a defender ready to encounter him. Beckham was not in the first 11 on his club team, not in the top 24 on his national team as of today. To pay that kind of money is ludicrous. He will not even be the MVP of the league in any of his 5 seasons here. MLS cares about flash and marketability- see Landon Donovan. I doubt that Beckham will bring in more fans. I doubt that he will sell more shirts than he already does in the US. In fact people are more likely NOT to buy his Galaxy Jersey as opposed to his Real Madrid or Man U strips. I am dumbfounded that MLS would committ this type of money while trying to barely keep its head above water.

posted by urall cloolis at 07:15 PM on January 11

I am dumbfounded that MLS would committ this type of money while trying to barely keep its head above water. In the spring of 1981 there was a local businessman in Houston who took over a furniture store in a bad part of town, right off the freeway in N. Houston. This businessman's previous job was night manager of a 7-11 in Dallas where he saved every penny possible to live his dream of having his own furniture store. He bought the store in the fall of 1980 and tried everything he could to advertise it on a shoestring budget. He was on all the local stations at 3:00 in the morning, trying to drum up business for what looked for all the world like a sinking ship. Finally, when he was down to his last $500, he went on the local Saturday morning wrestling show for one last advertising roll of the dice: He started jumping up and down and yelling as loud as he could that if you came to his store, he would "SAVE YOU MONEY!" Here's a link to that man's store today. The website may not be impressive but I can assure you, his sales figures and the money he gives back to the underprivileged in Houston are. I don't know if David Beckham will turn out to be the equivalent of a Saturday morning wrestling commercial, but I think the league had to try. It's the old adage...you have to spend money to make money.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 07:59 PM on January 11

Texan- I can definitely respect the fact that the businessman made his business work and gives back money to the community. I did like the link as well. However we are talking apples and grapefruits. The league already has over 500 employees and would risk that with one last ditch effort to make it work? It is already working, but on a smaller scale. The MLS needs to realize that true and paying soccer fans care more about substance over style. I have no problem paying BIG (not assinine) money to good players. But honestly, Becks isn't even really that good. He is a great free kick taker, a decent passer, an average shooter, a piss poor defender, doesn't have great speed or stamina and is more than often "missing" from games only to appear when a free kick opportunity is there. He doesn't even make 50% of his penalty shots. It sounds more to me like a guy at the craps table who started with $100 and has built it up over several days to over $10,000 only to risk it all on a hard six.

posted by urall cloolis at 08:15 PM on January 11

The MLS will let US players like Clint Dempsey go for a $3 mil transfer fee instead of keeping him and paying him what he is worth. We keep players like Landon Donovan because they will sell a few posters and soil a few schoolgirls panties. We don't make an effort to get young players like G. Rossi and O. Onyewu to stay here and play. All due to the reasoning that we need to "keep within a salary cap" to help the league grow. Then they piss away money for ONE has-been star past his peak. Sounds an awful lot like the NASL. At least the NASL had several aging stars on each team instead of just a few leaguewide. I would rather watch Clint Dempsey and Gooch Onyewu go at it than to see Beckham bend a free kick while staying invisible for 89 minutes any day. But maybe that is just the way I roll.

posted by urall cloolis at 08:26 PM on January 11

Here is an explanation of where the money's coming from, according to an editor at the BBC. $10 million salary per year, plus a stake in the club.

posted by blarp at 08:53 PM on January 11

We don't make an effort to get young players like G. Rossi and O. Onyewu to stay here and play. All due to the reasoning that we need to "keep within a salary cap" to help the league grow. Then they piss away money for ONE has-been star past his peak. Sounds an awful lot like the NASL. At least the NASL had several aging stars on each team instead of just a few leaguewide. I would rather watch Clint Dempsey and Gooch Onyewu go at it than to see Beckham bend a free kick while staying invisible for 89 minutes any day. But maybe that is just the way I roll. From a long-term perspective, I would prefer to see Gooch and Dempsey play overseas so that they get the experience that will help the US become better-equipped to compete at a high level internationally. In theory, better performances from the U.S. national team will lead to better talent development domestically and a better domestic league.

posted by holden at 09:10 PM on January 11

Holden- I agree somewhat- I would rather see our players go overseas as well. It is the only way to raise their game. However, to build the league, MLS needs to keep homegrown talent. Otherwise the league suffers and there is no pro league to play in for prospective players. Then as a result NO decent national team. I and many other good players were victim of that scenario in the mid 80's. No league, no incentive to try to play professionally for less than 20k a year. If the league builds properly and makes itself a top notch league we do that by keeping talent, not letting it go and get lesser players to build it up. Without a strong US league, the foundation is not here, but overseas. That doesnt work at an international level, due to travel and release strains. The strong international competitors do so by keeping their best players. Example- Owen Hargreaves is the only national player from England not in the EPL. And they are trying very hard to get him back there. The national team still tries to support the MLS by making players like Donovan the poster child of the MNT, when he is clearly not a starting player. He has the look that they want to draw fans. Which is precisely why they went after Beckham instead of players that would give the league more respect. Not make it an international joke.

posted by urall cloolis at 09:31 PM on January 11

I heard on FSC's Center Circle this evening that Edgar Davids might be coming to FC Dallas. I caught it in passing, so, I may be wrong. If that's true, I might be going to an FC Dallas game this summer.

posted by igottheblues at 09:53 PM on January 11

Edgar Davids is exactly the type of player MLS should be going after. One that makes the team better, has reputation, can bring in some fans and not cost 10 million plus a year. Plus he will play the game from start to finish and contribute. Like some of the stars the league went after early- Marco Etcheverry, Carlos Valderamma and others that still had game left, yet would not cost more than the purchase price of a new franchise.

posted by urall cloolis at 09:56 PM on January 11

Let the circus begin. Guess who's appearing on ABC's Good Morning America on Friday morning?

posted by hawkguy at 10:04 PM on January 11

The saddest part is that Victoria has shown once and for all that she does, indeed, wear the pants in that family. David simply wears the sarong.

posted by igottheblues at 10:13 PM on January 11

Hopefully he will have more to say than he did here. This is so funny: Ali G interviews the Beckhams

posted by urall cloolis at 10:14 PM on January 11

Sorry that video is a bit choppy here is a better one: Ali G with the Beckhams

posted by urall cloolis at 10:20 PM on January 11

Urall: Great link. I loved Posh. She completely played along and was quite funny. Beckham was just all quiet and mostly boring.

posted by PublicUrinal at 10:54 PM on January 11

Thanks PU- I think the best thing about us signing Becks is that we may get more Posh and less Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan.

posted by urall cloolis at 11:00 PM on January 11

I've never gotten the whole Beckham phenomenon, sure he takes an excellent free kick and has some wonderful passes, but there are so many better footballers out there. Media hype in action.

posted by Fence at 03:36 AM on January 12

Given the (increasing) immigrant population, I'd be surprised if many, many more people watch soccer/football than you suspect. I should have stated that better. I don't think people will watch MLS. The interest we see here in the World Cup and various other matches tends to be non-native Americans following their native countries teams. My comminity has a fairly large Mexican population. During the last World Cup there were posters up all over and such. But as soon as Mexico was eliminated the interest was gone again. The soccer they do watch they watch on the Spanish language channels.

posted by scottypup at 08:12 AM on January 12

Media hype in action. False. Beckham has always played inspired defense from the first minute to the last minute of injury time, his clearances out and passes have always been executed with pinpoint accuracy, decoys well when he's off the ball and generally makes everyone around him play better. You don't win FIFA player of the year based purely on hype. Of course injuries have slowed him down the past couple years, but there's no denying that this guys has been a world class footballer for almost his whole career.

posted by psmealey at 09:58 AM on January 12

Holden- I agree somewhat- I would rather see our players go overseas as well. It is the only way to raise their game. However, to build the league, MLS needs to keep homegrown talent. Otherwise the league suffers and there is no pro league to play in for prospective players. Then as a result NO decent national team. I and many other good players were victim of that scenario in the mid 80's. No league, no incentive to try to play professionally for less than 20k a year. If the league builds properly and makes itself a top notch league we do that by keeping talent, not letting it go and get lesser players to build it up. Without a strong US league, the foundation is not here, but overseas. That doesnt work at an international level, due to travel and release strains. The strong international competitors do so by keeping their best players. Example- Owen Hargreaves is the only national player from England not in the EPL. And they are trying very hard to get him back there. On how to build a strong national side, I guess it's really a question of cause and effect that has no easily discernible answer -- that is, whether strengthening national team players in foreign leagues will lead to a better MNT will lead to a better domestic league or if a better domestic league is more of a prerequisite to getting to a better MNT. Unless there are studies out there that show empirically that one approach is better than another, then I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. I personally would prefer to see a stronger MNT than a stronger domestic league at this point, but maybe my views would change if MLS could really put out a consistently good product. As to your England example, I personally think that England would be better off for international play if more of its players played in the Liga and Serie A. England needs more creativity and the ability to create goals, something that is somewhat lacking in EPL (certainly this year). I can recall only a handful of English players playing elsewhere in Europe in the last several years (Hargreaves, McManaman, Owen, Beckham?). The exposure to different styles of football certainly couldn't hurt. Also, France and Holland have inferior domestic leagues and I would say over half of their players play elsewhere (probably more like 3/4 for Holland), yet they are in the upper echelon of international sides. The difference between those countries and the U.S. with respect to domestic leagues, however, is that the youth programs at places like Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Lyon and Marseilles do a great job of developing local talent. The U.S. is sorely lacking in development programs associated with clubs.

posted by holden at 10:25 AM on January 12

Soccer will NEVER be as poplar as the established sports here in the states, I don't care who they bring over to play. It will never work well enough to get me to watch a game. I would rather do yard work than watch a horrible soccer match, much to boring for me. I'll watch Canada's version of it..hockey..LOL

posted by Oasis at 02:08 PM on January 12

KTHXBYE!

posted by yerfatma at 02:11 PM on January 12

Soccer will NEVER be as poplar as the established sports here in the states Maybe not, but I could definitely see it being as birch or maple as the established sports and possibly more hickory than the established sports.

posted by holden at 02:16 PM on January 12

Do you think we can sell tickets for people who want to go see Oasis do yardwork? I'll go set up an ebay store now.

posted by psmealey at 02:51 PM on January 12

Do you think we can sell tickets for people who want to go see Oasis do yardwork? Only if the brothers Gallagher go at each other with a rake and a hoe.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 03:07 PM on January 12

Thank you, Texan. The thing is, you know they have.

posted by yerfatma at 03:29 PM on January 12

Do you think we can sell tickets for people who want to go see Oasis do yardwork? heh

posted by goddam at 03:32 PM on January 12

Here we go again. I'm not even going to diss soccer, its a very difficult sport to play. However I must say that I dont think Beckham can inspire kids like you guys think he can. I think most of America wont even look at him as one of their own. He doesnt even sound like an American anymore with that prissy accent and that isnt going to sit well in the south to say the least. I wish him luck as he isnt taking any food out of my mouth. And if I were a defender I would break him the first chance I got just for being so crazy paid. Anyway I think an atmosphere of excitement starts from the lower levels and works its way up. If you cant get people to watch highschool soccer or college soccer then it has no future. Needless to say the big 3 dont have that problem.

posted by Drallig9399 at 03:51 PM on January 12

The worst case scenario? David Beckham becomes the Mario Lemieux of soccer. chico -- can you elaborate on what you mean by this? Sorry about that, holden. I wandered away from the thread prematurely. What I meant by that was, the worst case scenario for Becks would be that the franchise and the league go so far south despite his efforts that the league declares some form of bankruptcy, and as their largest creditor, he winds up as the owner of the Galaxy, or of the league as a whole. Like what happened to Mario in Pittsburgh.

posted by chicobangs at 04:04 PM on January 12

I agree that soccer is a hard game to play, I'm not sure how it is in the rest of the country but where I live at soccer does not get much funding and even less news paper time, as a few guys have stated it has to start in the Youth leagues and it's popularity has to grow from their. It needs more scoring to keep fan interest..and watching me do yard work would not only be boring but painful..LOL

posted by Oasis at 04:47 PM on January 12

Has anybody taken the time to research who is behind this deal? None other than American Idol bad boy & agent, Simon Cowell.

posted by Psycho at 06:20 PM on January 12

Oasis, not sure where you live but out here in the Bay Area there are not enough fields for all the teams--kids and adults--who want to play and there is plenty of funding. Stanford, one town over from me, is building (or just built) a new multi-field complex as part of a deal with the city of Palo Alto to allow expansion of their shopping mall. Urall: Fulham paid $4 million, not three, and I doubt it was a question of letting him go but rather getting a nice price rather than nothing when his contract expired and he went anyway. Personally I think these deals are positive for MLS and hope more are made for three reasons: - MLS developing a reputation for grooming quality players a la Netherlands, French, Portugese clubs is a big boost in stature, tying the league more tightly into the international football infrastructure - Players face top quality opponents every week and make the MNT stronger, leading to consistently better tournament results - Raises the profile of American football among global soccer fans All three factors offer a positive feedback loop that can help MLS and the MNT reach the top tier over time (and I mean years, not the short term), and the size of our market means that when that happens players will be clamoring to join MLS clubs rather than the other direction and Beckham/Davids-style deals. Psycho: American Soccer Idol, coming to Fox in Fall 2007!

posted by billsaysthis at 06:35 PM on January 12

We have more soccer fields than kids to play on them. The funding for the High School level teams has been one of the first budget cuts they made, hard to get the best athletes to commit to such a tough game when they can make more money playing an easier game, Maybe by having the Europeans come over and give the sport a boost might work. It's hard to get TV to commit 90 minutes to games though.

posted by Oasis at 07:21 PM on January 12

We have more soccer fields than kids to play on them. Really? You think you have more fields than necessary to handle more than 3,000,000 kids who play soccer in the USA each year? It's hard to get TV to commit 90 minutes to games though. ...as opposed to the 4+ hours they need for American football.

posted by grum@work at 08:35 PM on January 12

grum, sorry, I meant to say that we (here in the Bay Area, not all of the US) do NOT have enough enough fields for all the teams. I was typing in anger, forgive me.

posted by billsaysthis at 10:59 PM on January 12

billsaysthis: I think we were saying the same thing. I was responding to the original post (about more fields than kids), just like you were.

posted by grum@work at 11:02 PM on January 12

grum: the big difference there is that American football also offers a commercials galore. There is plenty of time between possession changes, end of quarters, timeouts, etc. for sponsors to get their messages across. Hockey, for instance, has TV timeouts to increase breaks since normal stoppage of play does not always allow enough time for a round of commercials to play. Baseball has no shortage of breaks. Basketball, plenty of timeouts and breaks as well. Soccer, meanwhile, would require the station to cut in the middle of the game (risking important plays, goals, etc.). The most advertising possible is a logo in a corner of the screen that will occasionally pop-up with the company's slogan over the audio of the announcers and overloading the half-time show with commercials (which is not at a high premium since that is when the audience drop-off is steepest). Thus, it's not just the factor of audience; with other sports like golf, football, baseball, etc. that draw big audiences and offer ample room for advertisements, TV stations have zero interest in promoting soccer (I would argue it's against their interest to see it thrive by the logic I offered). For the record: I love my futbol.

posted by PublicUrinal at 12:25 AM on January 13

Beckham's declining pace makes him perfect for MLS, which has the tempo of the Latin American game and the skillset of the Northern European game. The money being quoted is irrelevant in the long run. Trouble is, I don't think he adds what MLS needs in the long run, which is someone who'd make the move to coaching when it's time to hang up the boots. I personally think that England would be better off for international play if more of its players played in the Liga and Serie A Or if they played regularly in the Premier League. Thanks, Arse; thanks, Jose; thanks, Rafa.

posted by etagloh at 01:01 AM on January 13

Hey, Rafa plays Carragher, Gerrard and Crouch regularly and Jose Lampard and Terry :->> Back on topic, Capello says Beckham will not play again for RM, he cannot be trusted with such a big contract hanging on his mind. Could possibly lead to an early arrival, on loan?

posted by billsaysthis at 11:23 AM on January 13

Soccer, meanwhile, would require the station to cut in the middle of the game (risking important plays, goals, etc.). The most advertising possible is a logo in a corner of the screen that will occasionally pop-up with the company's slogan over the audio of the announcers and overloading the half-time show with commercials (which is not at a high premium since that is when the audience drop-off is steepest). Somehow, soccer/football survives all these "problems" in Europe and Asia and has a huge television following with many sponsors. I can't imagine that North American audiences LIKE the stop-and-go commericals of North American football broadcasts. To me, nothing kills my interest in a game more than the following: Team A calls a timeout! 1 minute of commercials! Team A scores a touchdown! (17 seconds of play) Team A kicks the extra point! (5 seconds of play, proceded by 20 seconds of setting up) 2 minutes of commercials! Team A kicks off, Team B runs it back for a bit. (15-20 seconds of play) 1 minute of commercials! Nothing drives me up the wall more than 3 mintues of commercials bracketing 20 seconds of play.

posted by grum@work at 01:04 PM on January 13

Nothing drives me up the wall more than 3 mintues of commercials bracketing 20 seconds of play. This is one of the key points in the debate over actual playing time in the NFL.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 03:17 PM on January 13

Jose also plays Ashley Cole regularly, Joe Cole when he is healthy. He plays Wayne Bridge plays when Ashley Cole is rested (both play the same spot). Arsene is another story- he wants to be the anti-English and get it done with no Brits, which is not working well this season. I do not blame Capello for benching Beckham for the remainder. Not like he was playing much to begin with. Now he has his mind elsewhere. They are going to keep playing Reyes, since that is who they wanted long term anyway. Since MLS is not offering Real Madrid a transfer, I would highly doubt they just "let him go" to MLS early. They will let him rust on the bench until his contract is up.

posted by urall cloolis at 04:39 PM on January 13

grum: I am not making the argument that it's not viable (there is too much evidence to the contrary), but rather counterintuitive for soccer to become mainstream for the major networks in the United States. I simply believe that the returns on football, etc. would supersede those of soccer based on the greater amount of space available for advertising and the subsequent marketing versatility, etc. If there is an audience that is willing to accept 30 commercials in 30 minutes, why move to a substance that offers a fraction of that versatility?

posted by PublicUrinal at 01:40 AM on January 14

Interesting link, Texan in NY. It amazes me that the people the scream the loudest that soccer is teh boring are invariably fans of American football. There is occasionally a fleeting moment or two of athleticism in each contest, nevertheless I cannot imagine a more tedious and dull pursuit than sitting down for 4 (!!!) hours and watching an NFL game. It's more of an advertising vehicle than a competition. To each his own, I guess.

posted by psmealey at 10:34 AM on January 14

The commercial problem for US networks is that round-football has predictable commercial breaks. The standard ITV approach is to have about eight minutes of half-time commercials and seven of analysis. (When ESPN did the World Cup, it was about 12-3.) What do people do? Put the kettle on, get another beer. Hence the Champions League's prime sponsors. Right now, live sport is one of the few TiVo-proof things on television. Unpredictable commercials that people have to sit through? Network exec gold. As for Becks, I'm just surprised that Capello isn't looking for a loan deal to get him out of the way till the end of the season. But he's vindictive enough of a bastard to have him training with the stiffs.

posted by etagloh at 01:03 PM on January 14

The stiffs that Beckham will be training with are better than most MLS teams. I would bet those "stiffs" could beat the Galaxy handily. Capello is a vindictive bastard though- touche'.

posted by urall cloolis at 01:48 PM on January 14

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