Sunday, August 12, 2007
(posted by OMDQ)
You might have missed it due to lack of mainstream media coverage (note: tongue planted firmly in cheek), but David Beckham made his regular season MLS debut on Thursday in the Los Angeles Galaxy's 1-0 loss to DC United.
ESPN broadcast the game and focused primarily on Beckham, an odd fixation noted by the D.C. Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg:
"I have no standing to criticize--all I've written about today is the specter of Becks--but I did find it bizarre when the TV's in the press box showed several minutes of the great man's warm-ups while the game was still going on. I mean, I'm all for hype, but don't you at least have to keep the game in a box or something while you drool over the wondrous one's stretching routine? I'm pretty sure BSPN even missed a corner kick to cover the stretching."
Cutting away from a live game to show someone else doing pretty much nothing? That doesn't sound like ESPN at all.
Steinberg went looking for player reaction on Friday and had the good fortune to run into Bobby Boswell, who gave him a few words on ESPN's coverage of the game and it's meaning to MLS:
"I'll tell you what [makes me mad]," he said. "If you watch SportsCenter today they were showing [highlights]. It was an ESPN-covered game. You would think they would show the highlights of the game, but the highlights were when Beckham warmed up, when he went in, a free kick...and then they just show him kind of after the game.
"And my whole point is, the goal was an exciting shot, there's a red card, there's a dirty foul: that's cool. There's a lot of chances. How do you just show him and they say, 'Oh, they lost 1-0.' What did anyone get out of that, you know what I mean? I don't know if the league has anything to do with it, but it's just going to turn into if Beckham does well, they're going to get some kind of coverage, and if not, it's just going to be a nightmare. It would have been better if he didn't come in and ESPN covered the game, so they had to show highlights. As it is now, what did anyone learn from watching that SportsCenter today? That Beckham played. That's it. They didn't learn anything else...."
Boswell makes a terrific point. Beckham's arrival in Major League Soccer was supposed to herald a new era for the league, a giant step toward gaining mainstream acceptance and appreciation for the sport in the United States. If the focus is solely on Beckham, however, and largely ignores the product on the field, how does that benefit the league? It is a situation that ESPN and MLS will have to work together to address, preferably sooner rather than later.
I highly suggest checking out that entry at the Sports Bog. Boswell had even more to say (be sure to check out the final line of his multi-paragraph quote. It's so awesome, a big "wake the hell up" to the media, that I should probably quote it here, but I don't want to steal all the best lines.) and Steinberg notes that ESPN has admitted to maybe, possibly going a wee bit too far with its Beckham obsession.