The Beckham Experiment
In 2007, English soccer star David Beckham announced he was signing a five year contract with Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy. This move shocked the soccer world in that MLS is generally considered a "B-League" on the world stage and Beckham was then plying his trade with Real Madrid, one of the elite super clubs of the world in one of the world's elite soccer leagues. Part of Beckham's reasoning was that he wanted to help soccer grow in the United States and eventually become on par with football, basketball and baseball in terms of popularity.
This signing was heralded by the Galaxy and MLS as the ushering in of soccer into the mainstream of America seeing as Beckham was not only a soccer superstar, but was married to a pop star (Posh Spice of the Spice Girls), had a modeling career, countless endorsement deals and counted the likes of Tom Cruise among his close friends. At the time, Beckham was easily the most famous athlete in the world. The world's most famous athlete playing in the world's celebrity epicenter...what could possibly go wrong?
Sports Illusrated writer Grant Wahl details what went wrong and to what extent in The Beckham Experiment. The disparity in pay between Beckham and some his teammates is incredible and an understandable source of irritation for some. Beckham was receiving a salary of $6.5 million per year and some of his teammates earned less than $15,000 per year (no, that's not a typo.) Long time Galaxy star Landon Donovan was more or less forced to surrender his captaincy of the team to Beckham after a very short time. Beckham's entourage was also pressuring the Galaxy's management and ended up pulling many of the strings behind the scenes, including the hiring and firing of coaches and front office personnel. So far, during Beckham's tenure with the Galaxy, not only have the Galaxy not become the most superior team in the league, they've gotten worse (they haven't made the playoffs once since Beckham's arrival...and they won the league in 2005.)
The Beckham Experiment is a fascinating tale of the collision of cultures, sports taking a backseat to celebrity, egos colliding, and good management going by the wayside in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
796.334 WAH New Book - The Beckham Experiment