David Beckham is a sports icon, the most famous star of the most popular sport in the world. He rose to stardom by playing for Manchester United football club in England, he also played for the English national team and won numerous championships and personal accolades during his career.
Beckham grew out of the persona of a football player and became a global superstar. There are many people in the world who have soccer display cases of his memorabilia and have won soccer medals because of being inspired by him.
For us Americans, Beckham became one of us after his 2007 decision of crossing the seas to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the Major League Soccer.
Soccer never made it big professionally in the States, and the MLS needed to attract some names which it started with England’s most favored son. When Beckham arrived on American shores, the MLS gained some much needed momentum.
When Beckham first arrived to play soccer in the MLS, its viewer ratings were low. There was no financial stability and there was almost no growth potential for the league – mostly because the athletically talented youth pursued a career in the NBA or NFL. MLS was fighting a losing ratings battle with the likes of NBA, NFL and MLB.
Of course nobody expected Beckham to arrive and start winning soccer trophies and championships. But they did expect him to boost soccer’s popularity. And the plan worked almost instantly, the first game that David Beckham played in the MLS was watched by almost a million households compared to the average audience of 400,000 households.
During his 5 year deal, Beckham single handedly made soccer popular in America. With the average attendance of people in stadiums rising from 15,000 to almost 19,000 per game he had made a significant difference. He had done what he was brought to America to do, which was not winning soccer medals or trophies, but bring attention towards soccer and MLS. Beckham was the cause of 300% rise in soccer viewership in America, for one person that is some accomplishment.
Dubbed the famous English man in America, Beckham retired from soccer in 2012. Since then there has been a steady drop in the ratings of MLS, yet another proof of Beckham’s influence on its popularity.
Now he is rumored to be thinking of buying his own team in the MLS, maybe that will bring the magic of Beckham back into the MLS and make it relevant once again. And inspire another generation of kids to win soccer trophies and medals.