No tears shed for closing of this Academy

By Ridge Mahoney

The David Beckham Academy in Carson, Calif., has closed. Good riddance.

Selling jerseys and tickets and perfumes and sunglasses in the USA as a sleek global icon is one thing, traipsing around a field during perfunctory appearances to thrill children whose parents are shelling out hundreds of dollars for a few hours of luxurious surroundings is quite another.

Bad enough were shameless shams such as “David Beckham’s Soccer USA,” a painful and thankfully short-lived television program fashioned on the icon’s irresistible, immutable screen appeal, or as it turned out, lack of same. There are plenty of vacuous exploitation programs produced by American companies already filling the airwaves and computer screens, thank you very much, so this blatant Brit-driven infestation of the U.S. market had to go down, and by god it did!

The last thing this country needed was this Academy, capitalized or not, no matter whose name is attached. MLS teams have academies, foreign teams have academies, and there are academies cropping up all over the country.

Some do tours, some do tournaments, and some do little more than collect more money than they can by calling themselves camps, which in many cases is what they are. Some do what they purport to do, which is accelerate and refine a young player’s development.

Academies are big business and it’s not fair for a big wheel like Beckham to cast his vast shadow over the American soccer landscape, which is already choked by academies, and shroud those operations lacking such a worldwide mega-star.

Dumping the Academy – which I’m sure was due to logistical problems and philosophical differences, not any financial matters -- is another shining example of his commitment to American soccer, like going on loan to Milan so as to avoid playing for the Galaxy as much as possible. (Milan pays for his services, saving MLS that portion of his salary, so it’s a win-win.) The Academy’s demise is also another glowing moment for 19 Entertainment, his representative agency.

By cutting loose his Academy he won’t be encumbered to a particular city, so when he exercises his option to own an MLS team, as of course he must since he’s said he’d like to some day and he’s nothing else but a man of his word, he doesn’t necessarily have to entice his partners – the ones who will actually pay up – to buy the Galaxy. He didn’t buy out his MLS contract, as he could have done in the fall, to play for Milan full-time and thus should have plenty of money to flash at his partners to lure them into MLS.

Without such burdens as Academy appearances or lame TV shows or costly contract buyouts to bother him, Becks should be primed for a breakout half-season in July when he comes back to MLS. Can’t wait!

16 comments about "No tears shed for closing of this Academy ".
  1. nick nicola, February 10, 2010 at noon

    The MLS also try to take out all the academy teams out, that not belong to MLS teams .
    The sounders (Wa state) a good example .
    all of them Bad Money Talk,

  2. Ron R, February 10, 2010 at 12:14 p.m.

    Not sure we should celebrate the departure of another big name from the support of American soccer. Are you also celebrating the cease of operations of the LA Sol?

    Where an academy takes advantage of parents and children, call them out.. but call them all out. Obviously you hate all things Beckham but he has done more for American soccer in the last couple of years, whether he did it your way or not, than Bob Bradley, USA Soccer or Ridge Mahoney... Not because they didn't try, but because they didn't have the reach.

    How many people went to see the Beckham circus when it came to town and ended up seeing a great game... and maybe came back the next week?

    Sorry, I just don't think you can focus only on the bad with Beckham, obviously there is some of that, you have to recognize the huge contributions as well.

    As for the TV show... It was a low production value but how many coaches can teach a player exactly where to hit a ball to make it bend? Most need help and there was some great information to help players and coaches understand some of the technical aspects of the game. That is more difficult for them than understanding the strategic elements (of which there are hundreds of companies hocking their wares online). A decent basketball coach can learn the game strategically but he can't teach the technical side well unless he can do it himself. So what show do they watch now?

    I for one would love to see more part time players of Beckham's caliber (Ronaldinho comes to mind) which leads to more part time EPL players of Donovan's caliber getting a shot over there. Let's take what time we can get from the big names and build a sport.

    Trashing David Beckham trashes football... Whether you like it or not, he's the face to the world right now of MLS. Everyone else is secondary. The worldwide community looks at this article and shakes its head... muttering "They just don't get it, do they?"

  3. Ihor v Kutynsky, February 10, 2010 at 12:53 p.m.

    ACADEMY: An association of scholars,writers,artists,etc for advancing literature,arts,sciences,study of philosophy.Where does Becks fit in these categories? A fad came and gone. Brits come make $$$,former colonists pay-revenge for American Revolution!What has Beckham done for American soccer?Introduced Tom Cruise to it and maybe create a future Scientology FC club later.

  4. cony konstin, February 10, 2010 at 12:55 p.m.

    Free!!!!! Soccer for kids!!!! That will be the day!!! In the US if you want to play soccer you must pay and you are good then you must pay extra. What a joke!!! Academies are another way of saying give me your money and Jesus will save you. We need a soccer revolution in the US and revolution must begin in the inner cities of America. Soccer in the suburbs are poisoned by twisted administrators, professional paid coaches and lunatic parents. In the hood there are no administrators, paid coaches and but there are lunatic parents. There is hope for soccer in the ghettos and barrios of America. But they don't have a place to play. Build them (concrete futsal courts) and then they will come out of their apt. complexes and play all day long. The day that this happens then one day we will have magical players. Until that day comes soccer in America will continue to be a hobby and a few lines in a local newspaper.

  5. Paul Bryant, February 10, 2010 at 12:58 p.m.

    Ron Richard, I believe you have it right. I only started following soccer when my son started playing 12 years ago at age 7. Soccer has now become my second favorite sport to watch and follow behind NFL football. That said, I have probably paid out over $15,000 for camps, indvidual training, training equipment and DVD's, travel, team fees and food over the years. Has it been worth it? I would do it again in a heartbeat. Beckham brought legitimacy and credibility to MLS, no question. Mr. Mahoney, your criticism or Mr. Beckham is misdirected. Your xenoaphobia is palpable. Shame on you.

  6. Thomas Hosier, February 10, 2010 at 1:16 p.m.

    Ridge your "Blast Beckham" column is a "bit over the top!" We now know how you feel about Becks, but I gotta tell you his journey across the pond brought life to the upper strata of soccer in the US of A. Since Becks arrival we are now beginning to see articles about soccer in local newspapers and can you believe it standings are being published for Englands Premier League, etc ... in local newspapers ... unheard of before Becks. Yes, Becks brought the Circus to America but his circus gave America a wake up a soccer wake-up call. Thanks Becks!

    Like Paul Bryant, I have spent 1000s of dollars on camps, club teams and tournaments for my kids and grand kids. Also like Mr Bryant, I would "do it again in a heartbeat." Wouldn't mind if it were a bit cheaper though. :)

  7. Ron R, February 10, 2010 at 1:19 p.m.

    You are right... American basketball is the closest we have to soccer in the rest of the world. We used to play sports in the inner cities but the land for parks and fields is worth too much so we had to say goodbye to developing baseball and other sports in the cities. The only pickup game we play in the US is basketball. In other countries, they have a futsal court that is also a basketball court... what a concept... The best athletes having a choice to play whether they live in the city or the suburbs...

    We have the best basketball players in the world because everyone has a place to play and can learn to be creative.

    If anyone thinks the best players in America play for the USA U21 U19 U17 teams... you are crazy. the best players in America don't even play soccer yet... The national team is as elite as it comes... but not in terms of talent.. it is elite in terms of who can afford to play or who can recruit...

  8. Ron Kaulen, February 10, 2010 at 1:21 p.m.

    I totally disagree with the article...the Beckham Academy was overpriced but brought prestige to our country. There are not many international type of camps that are recognized worldwide...

    We had our 11 year old daughter attend one camp....she LOVED it! The experience is / was not one she would have got with a MLS camp... we only wish we had the ability to have sent her a 2nd time.

    I'm concerned that our MLS community is starting to look like the "green moral-majority" trying to make shame of any American not fitting into the box of their agenda.

    Bottomw line: we need as many of these types of academy's as possible. Maybe when we have names that are recognizable to kids they will actually watch soccer like my daughter does now that she knows Beckham might be playing. If they watch TV they learn incredible amounts and marketing opportunities are available.

  9. cony konstin, February 10, 2010 at 1:37 p.m.

    When Beckham annouced that he was creating his Academy to start a soccer revolution in America. The first questions I ask. Is it free? Is it everday? Is it for kids who underpriviledge? The first answer I got it was not free. I have a master plan to develop the best players in the world right here in the USA. If anyone is interested in knowing my idea then feel free to call me at 5036279001. I would love to share it. Soccer in America is all about gimmicks. Are kids need meat and potatoes not novelties.

  10. Anthony Munoz, February 10, 2010 at 2:20 p.m.

    I do like David as a player, however; after hearing what friends paid to go to his academy, was awful. I know that if he was involved like an instructor I am sure the kids would be receiving some good instruction. I know that is not the case, I believe that the old saying goes. "Those that do , do."Those that can't, teach." I think that if you are still playing just keep playing and allow those that care and spend hours and hours with kids to sharpen their craft to spend thier money on something that is going to gave back to their own game.

  11. Brian Herbert, February 10, 2010 at 3:13 p.m.

    I think the comments so far show that Beckham has been both good and bad for US soccer. His star power has elevated soccer with US kids for sure. And, I don't begrudge him for deciding to close his academy, those things happen in business.
    What I found interesting was when my ten year old and I watched the AC Milan game the other day, Becks was on the ball and he said, "I hate that guy."
    I asked him why he said that, and he said, "Because he said he wanted to play here, and now he doesn't."
    The pure observation of a kid, it's a question of where is Beckham's loyalty? To his brand and the money only? Or does he have the character to stand in through thick and thin and really give to something that lasts?

  12. Terence Shumaker, February 10, 2010 at 3:34 p.m.

    Less power to the Becks. He goes where the money is and his friendship with Tom Cruise (Show me the Money) is fitting. I applaud any efforts by anyone that elevate the game of "football" in the US, but Beckham's mercenary attitude, going where the cash flows, just irks me.

    I think that the roots of soccer have now firmly taken hold in the US, and, thank you very much, we no longer need the likes of Beckham to show us how its done.

  13. Bernie Hardy, February 10, 2010 at 4:04 p.m.

    I had the chance to take 3 kids from my select team to this academy. The only downside we had with the whole experience was that Becks never made an appearance. The coaching staff that was on hand was very good with the children and was able to teach them and introduce them to new levels of the sport. Athletes Performance was involved in the training as well. With the cost averaging around $100 per day at the time we attended the camp most people wouldn't think twice to signing up their kids, however, with the level of knowledge that the coaching staff had, Athlete's Performance involvement in conditioning,the full adidas kit which included boots that was provided, the use of home depots facilities, the meals and drinks that were provided, it was well worth the money. Especially compared to some of the options available in our area.

  14. Mary Clouse, February 10, 2010 at 6:52 p.m.

    I can't believe what I have just read! David Beckham has brought so much attention to MLS, before Beckham came to the US I would never had wasted my time to watch a soccer game. Ever since Beckham arrived I have never missed a LA Galaxy game and I also have season ticket to my home team San Jose Earthquake . Instead of bashing him we should be thankful that he came to the US and made MLS more appealing! To me it seams that you are only speaking out of jealousy because he has everything any man would only dream of having!

  15. cony konstin, February 10, 2010 at 7:37 p.m.

    Mary what I am saying has nothing to do with his talent or what he has done for the MLS. What I am talking about is how soccer in the US is all about the Benjamins. Soccer is a poor mans sport. It is not POLO or GOLF. There is so much talent in this country that untaped. What I am proposing is enough with the BS soccer camps, and academies and lets get down and dirty by going into hoods of America and start grooming the next superstars who would love to have an opportunity to play the beautiful game.

  16. Mary Clouse, February 11, 2010 at 2:07 a.m.

    Cony, I was commenting on the article written by Ridge Mahoney. He was bashing David Beckham the whole time; he had nothing pleasant to say about him. I was very upset when I read the article. I felt that this article was very rude if he didn’t like the academy that is one thing and that is fine. He continued to say things about David that had nothing to do with the academy for example: another shining example of his commitment to American soccer, like going on loan to Milan so as to avoid playing for the Galaxy as much as possible. David want to be fit and in perfect condition to play in the world cup he is 34 yrs old and will be 35 May 2 so he need to keep fit . Since MLS has such a long break David has to go on loan to another team to stay fit. When he came back from Milan last year he was incredible . That is the reason I was so upset all the sarcastic remarks about David and not once did Mahoney say anything nice about Becks . It is really sad that Mahoney can’t accept that David Beckham is one of the best midfielder in the world! David Beckham and the LA Galaxy Forever #1

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