_      On January 11, 2007 David Beckham shocked the world by announcing he would be coming to America to play in the MLS. In a matter of days the LA Galaxy would sell seven thousand season tickets. The world consensus was that Beckham was washed up and he was heading across the pond to jump start a potential movie career in Hollywood. Why else would he go the MLS? Besides the whole world thinks the American “soccer” league is second rate, or worse. The former FIFA World Player of the Year and English National Team Capitan was committing the unthinkable, playing in the Yank’s league.

    Since his arrival in 2007 the expansion fee for an MLS franchise has quadrupled to 40 million. The value of an MLS team has taken off and promoting tickets to games is considerably easier. Media attention on the MLS has increased in the US. “Without him, the MLS would not be where it is today,” said Dan Garber, MLS Commissioner. “David Beckham’s Impact on the MLS can be measured in dollar signs,” said Kevin Baxter of the LA Times. David Beckham is the most marketable soccer player in the world. In fact a couple years ago when Jennifer Lopez was doing a public appearance bit for Pepsi and David Beckham showed up she mentioned how everyone in attendance stopped paying attention to her and flocked towards David Beckham as if she wasn’t even there.  Beckham has the distinction of being a rare individual who transcends sports and becomes a cultural symbol. He is recognized around the world as an icon, appearing in films or even just the film title. His family is even famous and the United Kingdom tabloids can’t get enough of him and his family.

    They rest of the world was wrong about Beckham being washed up. He won a title in the MLS during his final year in contract with the Galaxy and he helped solidify the MLS as a burgeoning league where foreign stars could come to America and still play the highest level of soccer. Ask Thierry Henry or Rafael Marquez, super stars in their own right, about how Beckham has helped promote the MLS to the rest of the world. The MLS may never be the same caliber of the European leagues but it has grown tremendously in stature since 2007 and stands a legitimate shot at being much more than a second rate league. If perception is reality than the perception of a worldwide icon like Beckham believing the MLS can be great is enough to cause the US and the world to re-think American soccer. One significant personality can make all the difference in marketing.

    Now that Beckham’s contract is up the European news has been buzzing about him making a return to a proper European club. Why would he dare sign in the MLS again since he is clearly not washed up, five years after they said he was? On January 18, 2012 they were wrong, again. David Beckham shocked the world once more, re-signing with the LA Galaxy.

*Appeared on GlovesOffSports*