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Are Beckham and MLS Another Flash-in-the-Pan?
San Jose Mercury News, August 23rd, 2007 5:45PM



The San Jose Mercury News' Ann Killion, who professes to be a "true believer" in both the beautiful game and "the dazzling star power of David Beckham," isn't so convinced about MLS' future. Killion happily admits that soccer, as evidenced by the bigness of the World Cup, is the only truly global game. David Beckham is also one of the only truly global celebrities.

Even so, nothing, she says, has really changed for MLS, which remains a mere footnote to every mention of Beckham's name. Why hasn't anything changed? Because Americans have proven time and again that aside from the big three -- baseball, basketball and football --, sports events almost never move beyond flash-in-the-pan status. Killion says the 1999 Women's World Cup is a classic example. Like Beckham's Coming to America, it drew huge crowds, had huge media interest, and had a huge star in Mia Hamm. Unfortunately, the buzz wore off, and the women's soccer league came and went quietly. "In the long run," she said, "Mia Hamm and the rest of her teammates couldn't save a league."

The big question, of course, is whether or not MLS needs saving. If the league continues to spend on big players that don't provide a good return, then yes, it will be in trouble. Some say soccer is already America's fourth sport, but Killion points to the fact that the best soccer is still overseas; it's where all of our homegrown talent wants to go, which she says means that MLS is "destined to be a sort of senior league of fading stars and unambitious younger players."

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