Beckham vs The Media
By tdh on Jun 26, 2006
My earliest memory of David Beckham was the foul he committed versus Diego Simeone of Argentina in the 1998 World Cup. I wasn't too impressed. I next saw him four years later and again, I wasn't impressed. You have to understand the coverage afforded football in the US to realize why I never saw his feats with Manchester United. It wasn't until Fox Soccer became a staple that you could get anything. But, you have to travel way up the dial, which means only die-hards will find it. For example, outside of his family, I'm in the minority in the US who watched Manchester United games for a chance to see Jonathan Spector play a couple of years ago.
I thought Beckham was getting mauled by Marcelo Balboa the entire game. He was nonstop about how slow Beckham was, how much of a liability he was, and how everyone knew the ball was going down the other side to Joe Cole to quickly feed Rooney. When Beckham scored, Balboa gave lip service to the only reason Beckham was in the game at all was his service off of set pieces.
I then saw a highlight reel today on ESPN with Stuart Scott talking about Beckham. If you hadn't seen the game, you would have thought it was Beckham finally touches the ball on the set piece, scores, throws up, and gets pulled off. I saw Beckham heave and then I saw him still haul his butt all over the field. I distinctly recall him on the defensive half breaking up plays by kicking the ball out for a thowin.
To say I'm disappointed with the on-air coverage by ESPN is an understatement. All year, you get your fix on the Fox Soccer Channel and when the UEFA and Champion's League Cups come about, you have to struggle to find the matches because they are on ESPN2. And now the coverage starts 5 minutes before the games and ends about 5 minutes after. You get to see Brent Musburger blow the canned questions - when the segment is advertised before the commercials as "Rooney to play 90?", how surprising is it to see him try to be smooth about whether Wayne Rooney is going to play the full 90?
I like Eric Wynalda and John Harkes for their analysis. And I love the shear sass that Julie Foudy brings to the mix. But, I hate the surgical precision that the network brings to inserting the World Cup into the mix.
I also hate that FSC is not allowed to show more than about 15 seconds of highlights. I like their analysis and opinion. I like being able to get commentary from Sky Sports and other English coverage. I even put up with Rugby and Cricket highlights.
I also like the coverage EPSN and Soccernet provide online. Many of the articles online are just taken from the wire, i.e., no matter what site you go to, you get the same content. I like the way Soccernet is packaged.
Back to Beckham, I saw some fan reactions later, probably on FSC, and they indicated that he is probably also being roasted by the European press for not being in shape. That also ties in with a recent article where Beckham states he would sit if Sven-Goran Eriksson asked him to do so (it followed an article where Sven claimed no one was safe, not even the captain). And postgame coverage of the match does seem to focus on whether Beckham is the weakest link or not.
His goal was a thing of beauty. He hurled. He covered the field. What more do you want?
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