FanDuel - WFBC

January 15, 2007

Why Beckham is not Pele.: A really excellent post on why MLS and NASL are in very different situations when they signed their aging superstars. (Related: why LA isn't getting an NFL team any time soon.)

posted by tieguy to soccer at 09:48 AM - 49 comments

Both links from Deadspin, which appears to have even more time to read sports blogs than I do.

posted by tieguy at 09:49 AM on January 15

This answers a question that wasn't asked.Of course Beckham is not Pele. Who is or ever could be?I, like most Americans am not a huge soccer fan but I know a legend when I see one and Pele fits the bill.

posted by sickleguy at 01:48 PM on January 15

You didn't actually read the article, did you. :)

posted by tieguy at 02:05 PM on January 15

Of course I read the article.I do not agree with the need of it.

posted by sickleguy at 02:17 PM on January 15

I still don't think you read the article; very little of it is actually about Pele or Beckham (though that quesiton has been asked) and much more about the relative state of the two leagues (one growing and well-structured, the other shrinking and without a salary cap.) But hey, if you thought it was mostly about Pele and Beckham, more power to you.

posted by tieguy at 02:26 PM on January 15

I don't think you can really consider soccer even in the top seven or eight sports in the USA. The list of 'much bigger' must include NCAA football and NCAA basketball (ie March Madness) as well as in # of spectators and $ available, PGA Tour and NASCAR. The biggest problem that can NEVER be overcome is the fact that football in America hasn't a damn thing to do with a soccer ball.

posted by jaygolf at 03:49 PM on January 15

You know.tieguy,SpoFi is about posting interesting sports articles not readily accessible to fans and commenting. It is not about arguing with participants,questioning their viewpoints and ragging them.

posted by sickleguy at 04:09 PM on January 15

The article is very interesting, and it paints a picture of soccer in the United States that's both optimistic and (seemingly) pretty realistic. I had no idea how hubristic the NASL, and the Cosmos specifically, was being in throwing money at all those old people ith no business plan. I agree and hope that Beckham's signing could bring a much better result for this league. And why does it matter which US sports are most popular? Unless you're an advertiser or a media outlet who needs that kind of demographic data, who cares if soccer or NASCAR or hockey or rock-paper-scissors is #2 or #5 or #432867? I'm one person. I'm one fan. Or not. Whatever. I don't need to know the size of my mob to validate what I like.

posted by chicobangs at 04:45 PM on January 15

sickleguy: spofi, at its best, is about having an intelligent discussion about what is going on in sports. Reading the linked articles is usually a prerequisite for that, and (like I said) I don't think you have in this case. Chico has, and his comment is more interesting as a result. chico: I was glad for the history lesson too, and I thought the insight about the salary cap was a very good point. As far as the size war, even the advertisers don't necessarily need size as a metric anymore; many of them are realizing that hitting smaller audiences with more targeted demographics is better. I have a feeling that soccer is going to benefit greatly from that, especially if Univision expands its coverage, allowing even more specialized/targeted advertising on the same content.

posted by tieguy at 04:59 PM on January 15

Looks like you'll all have to wait until August for your chance to watch Becks in the MLS. Agreed it was an interesting article and taught me a lot about both MLS and the NASL. It does seem that it's a completely different situation to the Pele deal. Hopefully it can be the catalyst that propels football to the next level in the USA.

posted by squealy at 06:22 PM on January 15

squealy: I'm very curious to see how that plays out; at this point, Madrid has every incentive to let him go, and I think Galaxy has every incentive to be the nice guy and let Madrid and Becks work it out between themselves. No one at Galaxy wants to be seen as a predator here- that damages their goal to become a world-popular team almost before the effort starts. Instead, even if they do want Becks at the start of the season (which of course they do) they can currently let Madrid be the bad guys.

posted by tieguy at 06:35 PM on January 15

Very interesting article and I love the comparison with the nasl it sure looks like the mls is on better footing than I thought I sure hope so

posted by luther70 at 08:46 PM on January 15

As far as I'm concerned European "FOOTBALL" will never be popular in the USA untill they elliminate faking injuries that was rampant in the workd cup.

posted by rockyxgone at 10:23 PM on January 15

Because, as we all know, NFL players never have, and never will, fake an injury with time running down and their team out of timeouts. God knows, a Major League Baseball player has never stepped off the mound, or out of the batter's box to take a little extra time to get it together. Evil soccer players and their fake injuries! Thank God our American boys never do that stuff! Grow up.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:36 AM on January 16

I saw Phillip Rivers put in a flop this past weekend that would make Arjen Robben proud.

posted by trox at 08:53 AM on January 16

It isn't possible to eliminate all faking of injuries. Referees certainly aren't qualified to judge it. I would have thought this was the same across all sports. Injury faking and diving are certainly some of the main bugbears British football supporters have about the game. Not that players in our leagues are innocent of it. It needs the organising bodies like FIFA, UEFA and the national associations to take a hard line on the problem. But, when push comes to shove, you can sometimes judge that a player has dived but how can you tell that a player is faking injury?

posted by squealy at 09:12 AM on January 16

Pretty easy, really- if a stoppage is required for the "injury", the player can't re-enter the game; with maybe a mandatory 2-3 minute stretch on the sideline for anyone whose 'injury' draws a foul on the other team. The worst of the awful game-delaying acting should go away pretty quickly after that.

posted by tieguy at 09:46 AM on January 16

Beckham is not Pele. Who is or ever could be? Ummm... one person springs to mind. This parody of a letter from "Peter Neumann, Head of Personnel and Rookie Integration, LA Galaxy" by Giles Smith in the Times is quite amusing. Itíll also be a nice chance for you to hook up in a relaxed setting with some of the other guys on the team. You will already know, Iím sure, Wexler Cornball, who rushed 47 yards in his first trimester and is currently 52 and 0 with the bases manned at the bottom of the ninth. Then thereís Spud Berkeley, who was Moosejaw Highís MVP 417 times in the space of one extraordinary spring break back in 1997.

posted by JJ at 10:26 AM on January 16

Can I ask a question? Does everyone not realize that even though past his prime, Beckham is internationally recognizable? This signing wasn't about talent, but name recognition.

posted by hellamarine at 12:19 PM on January 16

Hey black_hand, you are right, that stuff does happen, but is less frequent than the 500 times it happens per soccer game. Which is why the only time I watch soccer is the World Cup.

posted by hellamarine at 12:21 PM on January 16

Could you give an example of one game where it's happened 500 times. That seems like a lot! Just one, I can't believe that that has ever happened.

posted by tommytrump at 02:49 PM on January 16

As far as I'm concerned European "FOOTBALL" will never be popular in the USA Why is there such incredible interest on the part of those who clearly hate the game that it not be popular. Do they really feel so threatened by/insecure about it? Go get some therapy, guys. Personally, I couldn't give a shit whether it's "popular", whatever the fuck that means. What I want is a slightly better domestic league where beautiful plays are less rare, and a national team with a fighting chance to make it into the final 8 or 4 of the world cup on a reasonably consistent basis. I think this might be a small step in that direction. Signing Beckham -> raises profile of league -> attracts more ad revenue/sponsorships/more ticket sales -> enables league to get better players domestically and internationally -> higher level of play -> better domestic players staying home to play -> better national team. Not the end all/be all. A step in the right direction. That's it.

posted by psmealey at 03:10 PM on January 16

Giles Smith can kiss my American, soccer-loving arse btw. We're not all a bunch of marketing jargon addled rubes over here. Besides, as much as I love the EPL, the people associated with it hardly represent the best of British society either.

posted by psmealey at 03:23 PM on January 16

Another possible reason why you see 3 or 4 dives per soccer match to every 1 or 2 in an american football match might be there is only 30 minutes of real action in our version (yep, I'm American) and 3 times that in soccer. Now who will be the first idiot to say "Soccer is boring and there's NO action!"

posted by Ricardo at 03:59 PM on January 16

This is a little off topic, but following from Ricardo's point, according to this article the actual playing time in an NFL game is 12 minutes. I'm not sure how accurate that assessment is, but it is pretty amazing to me (although after watching again after hearing that, it 12 minutes seems about right).

posted by ucsdlafan at 04:50 PM on January 16

Um, tommy, I didn't mean literally 500 times. I was exagerating, you know. It does happen a lot more than some of the other examples given is all I'm saying.

posted by hellamarine at 05:03 PM on January 16

I see that the MLS has a different rationale and "business plan" than the NASL had. However, at least I remember the NASL having some top quality players. I hope that the MLS way works, because I would hate to see the end of another pro soccer league domestically. As far as name recognition- MLS is a joke to the rest of the world for paying Beckham 20 times what he is worth, when no respected team in the world was offering anything for him. Wasn't wanted in Spain, Italy or the Premiership. It was here or the J-league for him. I can not fault him for chasing the almighty dollar. The same little girls that buy Landon Donovan jerseys will be the same ones that purchase Beckham jerseys. The true soccer fan (I shell out over $300/year on jerseys) would not be caught dead in a Galaxy/Beckham kit. The same Asians that sit outside Michael Jacksons hotels and screech for hours on end will be the only ones outside the US that gives a crap about following him or his career. I also doubt he will bring in that many more fans. People that dislike soccer HATE Beckham. People that are knowledgeable about soccer know he is a pop icon- NOT an international soccer superstar. If that is what MLS thinks will sell in the long run, I sure hope the hell they know what they are in for.

posted by urall cloolis at 05:07 PM on January 16

Wasn't wanted in Spain, Italy or the Premiership. I hardly think that's fair or accurate. Beckham can still get a starting role on any team in the Premiership outside of the top 4-5 teams, and he could be a useful sub on any of those. It's true that the guy's skills are in decline, but let's not transform him from captain and first squad selection on one of the top National sides in the world into Jeff Agoos in less than a year and a half. MLS needs more fans, knowledgeable or not. The knowledge can always come later, right now, it needs a shot in the arm to get to the next plateau in its progression. This can possibly represent that. And hey, if Davids, Zidane, Ronaldo and some others follow suit, it will have been well worth it.

posted by psmealey at 05:27 PM on January 16

The same Asians that sit outside Michael Jacksons hotels and screech for hours on end will be the only ones outside the US that gives a crap about following him or his career. This isn't quite true. There's plenty of people in Englan interested in following Becks and his career. Another possible reason why you see 3 or 4 dives per soccer match to every 1 or 2 in an american football match might be there is only 30 minutes of real action in our version (yep, I'm American) and 3 times that in soccer. This isn't quite true either. Real action in the average football (soccer) game is probably only about 50 minutes of the 90 on average. I'm sure there's the statistics out there, but I can't be arsed to look for them.

posted by squealy at 05:44 PM on January 16

pmeasley...I would never compare Becks to Agoos- other than the ponytail on top of the head that he wore for a season, ala Pebbles Flintstone. The fans that MLS will add by Beckham will be those that buy a game ticket or two a season when he comes to town. The fans the MLS needs are those that love the sport and just want to see a good product on display. I am a HS and College coach and would rather watch a EPL game on Fox Sports than go to a MLS game. When the standard of play rises, I will buy season tickets again, as I did before it got too frustrating to watch. I just don't see Beckham really rising the quality of play. As for Ronaldo- he is a long shot as he is meeting with AC Milan about a contract. Zidane, while still having some gas left in the tank, is not interested at all. If he plays again it will be in France. Davids may sign with Dallas hopefully. He will bring a gritty, workmanlike quality and add to team chemistry, even he doesn't even start for Tottenham any more. I would love to see some top players follow suit, but don't see the Beckham signing bringing others here. Maybe some past their prime players, which is not much different than what the NASL failed with.

posted by urall cloolis at 05:51 PM on January 16

Decided to be arsed and find a source. According to this the average is 55 minutes. Ball in play

posted by squealy at 05:54 PM on January 16

Squealy- are you going to purchase an LA Galaxy Beckham jersey and start to follow MLS? Just answer honestly and I will let it rest. Thanks.

posted by urall cloolis at 05:56 PM on January 16

Squealy...nice link. I would have thought it to be a little higher as for actual playing time.

posted by urall cloolis at 06:12 PM on January 16

Squealy- are you going to purchase an LA Galaxy Beckham jersey and start to follow MLS? Just answer honestly and I will let it rest. Thanks. Well certainly no to purchasing an LA Galaxy Beckham shirt. But then I've only ever bought one shirt and that was from the team I support - Birmingham City FC. I wouldn't be seen dead in the shirt of any other team (aside from England) or with the name of any player on the back. With regard to the MLS, I've watched games on Channel 5 over here. But they've been in the early hours and I don't think they're even live. It wouldn't surprise me if one of the tv companies here picked up the MLS rights as a result of the Beckham move (and it wouldn't surprise me either if they didn't). We're 8 hours ahead of LA and I'm not sure what the standard kick off time is in the USA. If it's live football and it's a channel I have access to then I might well have a look.

posted by squealy at 06:13 PM on January 16

Squealy. Thanks for the answer and Cheers! I will probbaly doing the same thing this Sat at 9am as you are in the evening/afternoon. Watching some EPL (or Coca Cola League) live. Good luck with Birmingham City FC. They are tops of the table now, best of luck advancing.

posted by urall cloolis at 06:20 PM on January 16

Well thanks for the best wishes for my team urall. We've had 130 years of mediocrity and it's nice to be top of something for a change. We're looking for an immediate return to the Premiership, and presumably another relegation but with £40m of funds in the bank. Hehe. It's certainly a big weekend of Premiership football. I don't know if you get the same games as we do over here but the big fixtures on Sky (cable) this weekend are Chelsea v Liverpool and Arsenal v Man Utd. They're billing it as Grand Slam Weekend. Also Birmingham feature against Leicester in the Championship, but somehow I doubt that'll be shown worldwide. ;-)

posted by squealy at 06:32 PM on January 16

Can I ask a question? Does everyone not realize that even though past his prime, Beckham is internationally recognizable? This signing wasn't about talent, but name recognition. MLS Commish Don Garber would not agree with you. Beckham's decision "has generated more interest in Major League Soccer than any other event in league history," MLS commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday. "We didn't sign David to sell tickets and jerseys. He was signed because he's a world-class soccer player."

posted by danjel at 06:37 PM on January 16

I beg to differ with Don Garber. Why would MLS spend that type of money on a player who doesn't start for his club team and relegated from his national team? Yes, it created interest, maybe not the right type. If the Yokomuro Giants (or whoever) signed Roger Clemens for $50 mill a year it would create interest as well. It would not necessarily raise the quality of Japanese baseball. If Olympiakos of the Greece Basketball league signed Michael Jordan for $50 mill it would create news, not necessarily bring bigger names from the NBA to the league. When the J-league brought in big name and past prime talent from Brazil it did nothing to bring the league respectability. What makes the MLS plan of action work any different? I hope it works for the future of the league, cause I want to see it grow and become respectable. yet I still see it as an abortion ready to happen.

posted by urall cloolis at 07:11 PM on January 16

As an avid fan of the sport, I watched MLS with gusto before Fox Sports World (now Fox Soccer Channel) made the EPL as accessible to me as it is now. I no longer scramble to see any of the games (with the POSSIBLE exception of playoffs and MLS Cup). I will be one of the fans lured back to the sport mainly to see how Beckham stacks up to what we already have. I suspect he will make a difference, but the play in MLS has greatly improved over the last four years or so. Not to the point where I will turn away from the EPL games. Still , I will watch at least the Galaxy games and hope Beckham justifies some of the money.

posted by Ricardo at 01:01 AM on January 17

Most EPL stars on the downside of their careers would improve their MLS teams because the quality of play here is lower. An English soccer-loving friend and I often discuss where MLS teams would rank if they were part of England's Football Association. I figure they'd be two leagues below the Premiership.

posted by rcade at 09:18 AM on January 17

On the news over here they interviewed Steve Nichol, (Liverpool/New England), Frank Yallop, (Ipswich, yay!/LA) and Steve Morrow, (Arsenal/Dallas) and they rated a good MLS side thusly : Nichol : Upper Championship side, challenging for promotion to the Prem. Yallop : Solid Championship side. Morrow : Low Premiership. All three have extensive experience of the English game, to a very high level in the case of Nichol and Morrow and although I won't try to guess where a good MLS team would fit into the English structure I will say that the MLS games I saw during the World Cup were vastly superior to the ones I saw back in about 2001.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 10:10 AM on January 17

Mr. B: interesting, very interesting. More positive than I would have expected, too, though obviously all three have incentives to talk up the level of play in MLS.

posted by tieguy at 10:31 AM on January 17

I thought about that too - they knew they were going out to an audience, so I expected they'd inflate their opinions, but the Championship is such a melting pot every year that "solid championship side" isn't really that amazing. If you look at the championship table the middle of the pack is nearly always about 10 points behind the playoffs and about 10 points above relegation. I keep telling myself that's "fun and exciting" but my lot are a little too close to the excitement at the bottom this year.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 10:41 AM on January 17

When the J-league brought in big name and past prime talent from Brazil it did nothing to bring the league respectability. That may be true, but what it did do was help to improve the Japanese national team by several orders of magnitude, by introducing more variety and higher quality. This was one of the points I was trying to make earlier in the thread. I figure they'd be two leagues below the Premiership. I don't watch it much, but most "experts" I've heard put it about on a par with the Scottish Premier League, which kind of puts in about the same level as the Championship. Kind of.

posted by psmealey at 10:45 AM on January 17

Urall, my old friend ;), I think there is a significant difference between MLS and any of J-League and similar national leagues at a business level which your comment does not take into account: MLS has the opportunity to develop a global fan base. I'm not saying that it will ever be achieved but due to American prominence in the global media, size and diversity of its internal market and the number of English speakers worldwide its certainly there. MLS has generally planned its development on this premise though the execution has not been without faults (grumble, San Jose, Miami, Tampa Bay, grumble). The league braintrust may be trying to jump a couple of rungs ahead with this deal, and it may end up another fault, but the increase in overall fan mind share could make it pay off despite your assertion that little girls buying Beckham jerseys will not be a longterm benefit.

posted by billsaysthis at 01:48 PM on January 17

point well taken billsays and psm. I still think its way too much money to pay one player for a league that has been pinching pennies for 11 years. Maybe this is what they were saving up for. I really want the whole MLS thing to work as well as build a strong national side. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

posted by urall cloolis at 06:06 PM on January 17

I still think its way too much money to pay one player for a league that has been pinching pennies for 11 years. Maybe this is what they were saving up for. correct me if i'm wrong, but isn't AEG technically paying the bulk of his salary, with the league itself only chipping in $400,000 per year? it's not like he's going to be draining the resources of MLS. and i would think that AEG has more than enough funds to cover this deal.

posted by goddam at 08:43 PM on January 17

Anschutz made his money from energy (oil and gas), railroads and besides indulging a passion for soccer is also funding family-oriented movies, old Phil can afford this. Especially after unloading three of his six franchises.

posted by billsaysthis at 05:32 PM on January 18

correct me if i'm wrong, but isn't AEG technically paying the bulk of his salary, with the league itself only chipping in $400,000 per year? That's what I've read as well. it's not like he's going to be draining the resources of MLS. and i would think that AEG has more than enough funds to cover this deal. And there's still debate over AEG's contribution, with American Idol creator Simon Fuller involved.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 06:23 PM on January 18

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