Monday, July 23, 2007

Beckhamania .....

When I was a youngster, it was 'Beatlemania,' as America was swept-up by a British invasion ..... now, another Brit has landed on our shores, and America - including our own humble home - has been swept-up by 'Beckhamania.'

David Beckham, a star of England's legendary Manchester United and Spain's Real Madrid, and a longtime mainstay of England's national team, has now taken the field in America, as part of Major League Soccer's L.A. Galaxy.

Reactions in the sporting press are varied - from wild enthusiasm to wide yawns - about his move to America, and what impact the move might have on Major League Soccer, and the sport in general, here in the United States.

Reactions in the celebrity press have been, almost without exception, ecstatic. While pundits will examine the stats and debate the Becks athletic status, there is no doubting his celebrity status .... that and being married to Victoria (aka: 'Posh Spice') has guaranteed them a spot on the 'A List' in southern California, which the couple now calls home.

Just look at the pre-game show on ESPN the other night, when the L.A. Galaxy took on Celtic in a 'summer friendly' that would be Beckham's American playing debut. Even by ESPN standards, the pre-game was positively gushing. And the game itself included frequent tosses to interviews with celebrities in the stands (mostly talking about the Becks and the impact), and shots from the 'Beckham Cam.'

The impact has been felt even here, in West Texas ..... at least, in our home. Elder son is a soccer player ..... and through him, I have learned to become a soccer enthusiast. He's first-and-foremost a Man U fan, which includes owning a share of stock in that team. As for MLS, he's an FC Dallas fan, but he also loves L.A. ..... in fact, the first MLS game we ever saw together was the 2005 MLS Cup, when L.A. defeated the New England Revolution. When the news came that Beckham was coming to Los Angeles, there was talk in our house about what he'd do on the field in conjunction with two of elder son's favorite players, Landon Donovan and Cobi Jones.

He already has a new Galaxy home jersey, complete with Beckham's name and #23 ..... one of more than 300,000 sold in just the first week they were available ..... one indicator of 'the impact.'

Another indicator of the impact can be found in ticket sales ..... one of the games we got as part of a mini-season-pack from FC Dallas was a 'Super Liga' match with the Galaxy ..... which was already going to be a good game, but will now have the added attraction of Beckham. Earlier this week, a member of FC Dallas' front office told me that only 2,000 (out of 20,000) tickets remain for that game at Pizza Hut Park, in Frisco, Texas, and they are planning on adding bleachers to the stage at one end of the complex, for added seating ..... a packed house is almost unheard-of for a regular season game.

He also told me front offices for other teams around the country are also getting calls, asking about games with the Galaxy, asking about games with Beckham ..... and ticket sales are up around the league.

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