Beckham’s Ridiculous ESPY

If you’re like me, you put very little credence in the ESPY’s. I can’t remember a time when I’ve sat down after a hard day’s work and said, “Gee, I wonder who’s going to win the ESPY for Outstanding Team???” The idea of an awards ceremony for sports television really ranks in that lovable Twitter category, “First World Problem.”

But ESPN has to stroke its amazingly huge ego, and so we have to endure countless gushings over LeBron James and Tom Brady (as if that’s any different than the continuous morning SportsCenter loop).

In all of this, two “awards” (and I use that term loosely) were handed out that might cause a blip on a soccer lover’s radar. The “Best International Athlete,” was well-deserved by F.C. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, while “Best MLS Player,” was won by David Beckham.

(Before we get to Beckham, if you really had any inclination to pay the ESPY’s any respect, then that shred should be doused in gasoline and burned like a cheating lover’s photo given the fact that “Best Male Athlete” had no mention of Messi this year or last. The guy has shattered scoring records galore. Are American networks and sponsors really THAT scared of soccer that they refuse to acknowledge a superstar in his prime??? Sheesh…)

So Beckham’s not the Best MLS Player right now. We probably agree on that, right? As is the case with Messi and Best Male Athlete, you’ll rarely see the most deserved player receive the accolades – unless that player is the glitziest, most saleable headliner that might help ESPN sell ad time during sporting events. Out of the nominees, the last 12 months has shown that Dwayne De Rosario is the right choice hands down. Unfortunately for Dwayne’s pocketbook, he’s not modelling underwear during the Super Bowl, so Beckham got the nod. And honestly, every “Best MLS Player” award has been won by a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy, so De Ro shouldn’t be too surprised (by the way, the Galaxy end up on ESPN quite a lot, don’t they…).

But does it really matter? For Best Female Golfer they selected Cristie Kerr, who hasn’t won a tournament in TWO YEARS. Yet she is more deserving than Yani Tseng, who has won two majors and 8 LPGA events in the last 12 or so months. The absurdity of this event, and that someone like me would waste my time writing about it is criminal (it’s really tough typing in handcuffs).

Of course this is exactly what Major League Soccer targeted when they lured Beckham to America with promises of money and fame. Beckham is the face of MLS, and so ESPN has obliged – rewarding a player who is not the Best MLS Player at this stage of his career, but that creates some buzz for the league.

Obviously Beckham’s presence has helped MLS over the years. I do think that MLS is beyond the bump in popularity that Beckham brought. More and more Americans are watching soccer televised from overseas, and the sport continues to gain popularity from a broadcast perspective. It’s going to take time, and Beckham is still a fine player. Hopefully in the coming years, the emphasis is as much on raising the bar in quality as much as the profile of the players involved.

That doesn’t change the fact that David Beckham is still the face of MLS. When MLS decided to discipline him for a petulant act against San Jose, he decided that meant it was time for him to make a cameo appearance at Wimbledon. Beckham seems ever ready to better his own public image, even if that means he appears to disrespect the rest of his team. He then has the audacity to complain when the press decides to call him on his behavior.

So what it comes down to for me is simple – Beckham’s still a good player, but his skills aren’t what they used to be. He can still earn his hefty paycheck by his actions though. His competitive nature will always be there, and it’s unreasonable to expect that he will be this gentlemanly figure when he’s getting hacked down. But what he can do is take the league as seriously as he takes the game. Play away matches. If you have to sit a game out, sit with the team and not with your wife at the All-England Tennis Club. Go the extra mile to be that ambassador for the league – especially because it seems like this appearance at Wimbledon was more for his own image than that of MLS.

There is a fine balance between publicity and integrity. I think we all know where the ESPY’s stand in terms of credibility. As long as MLS takes care not to hurt the integrity of the league, this is all OK. The league suspending him for his poor behavior was refreshing and necessary, but his response to that has bordered on disrespectful. Beckham is welcome to earn all of the money and meaningless accolades that can be foisted upon him – just as long as his actions befit the Best MLS Player.

This entry was posted in David Beckham, ESPYs, LA Galaxy, MLS Talk. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Beckham’s Ridiculous ESPY

  1. Charles says:

    ESPN soccer area is run by idiots. It is fine with an award like
    this to not award it to the top player. Actually it is not, but it
    is going to happen and it happens all the time….amazing the best
    player always seems to be a scorer. But why would you go with him ?
    Is there someone that does NOT know who he is ?………….so you
    reduce the league to one player for the common person who doesn’t
    know soccer well. If you pick the non-best player, go with someone
    that makes SportsCenter. Nagbe’s goal of the year does that…pick
    him. He will be one of the best soon. How about Maddox ? IF
    Wednesday’s goal is any indication, he might be on SportsCenter
    more than a few times. Show some “out of this world” highlights,
    generate some interest in how great players most have never heard
    of are.

  2. Jake says:

    Stopped reading after the Fox News turd.

  3. Jesse says:

    @Jake, couldn’t agree more. Well put, sad that a comment such as
    yours actually takes balls these days.

  4. Sara Palin says:

    I agree Fox News rocks, plus Becks earned this award.

  5. mrditty says:

    Kind of careless to write such a long drawn out article but leave
    out that that the awards are fan voted.

  6. rob flint says:

    brilliant player in his day, still pretty good. However completely
    overrated and way past it

  7. CTBlues says:

    No where else to post this. The RedBulls traded Dane Richards to
    Vancouver for Le Toux.

  8. TT says:

    Aren’t these awards voted on by fans? I agree that the Espy’s have
    low cred, but blame the masses for that. I’d imagine ESPN thinks
    they’re doing the right thing (or dodging the hard decisions
    themselves) by letting fans vote for the winners. As for the
    Beckster…. I care and follow soccer religiously year round, US
    and abroad. However I’d imagine that relatively few of the
    voters/average American sports fans know more than 2 or 3 big names
    in Soccer. Voila! Beckham wins! Which brings me to slightly
    different subject I thought about while reading the article and
    comments. Our nation has embraced tennis, golf and hockey over the
    last 100 or so years. They were codified/invented in other
    countries but you never hear them referred to as “foreign” sports
    in the US. Despite the earliest manifestations of soccer being
    played in this country since the late 1800’s and even having its
    first league 5 yrs or so after MLB, soccer is still treated and
    referred to as a foreign sport. Is that really Jim Rome, Wilbon or
    ESPN’s fault? Though interest is indeed growing, perhaps our own
    soccer culture and fans are more than anything are responsible for
    the divide. I’m a bit biased but I believe that we’re the greatest
    sporting nation in the world. We’re prideful and are taught from a
    very young age to take ownership in our performances, not giving
    much energy to talk of bad calls, etc. You either do the business
    or you don’t. We like to make our own way, maybe borrowing a bit of
    this and that from nations that do things well. Our coaches however
    tend to be more educated, develop and share fitness and training
    methodology across the board. It would seem that a good number of
    our fans have little respect for what we’re capable of given time
    and faith. Its fine to “respect” Euro and Latin soccer, but I get
    the sense that our “soccer nation” is just a bit TOO much in awe of
    them to where we risk losing the best parts of ourselves. Among
    American sports fans in general, the US national teams have the
    highest soccer visibility. Yet BOTH of our national teams are being
    led by foreign coaches. US National Hockey team, Davis Cup, Fed
    Cup, Hopman Cup… have they ever been led by anyone other than
    Americans? I have to wonder if we create our own isolation. This
    sport is marketed, promoted and presented in this country as a
    “foreign” sport, when it should be presented as simply another
    sport that in our own time and in our own way we will eventually

    • Earl Reed says:

      Yes it’s fan voted, but there is a nominating committee for the award. The nominations were announced June 29, 2012, which takes well into account the first half of the 2012 season. This committee is called the ESPY Select Nominating Committee. We have no knowledge of who is on this committee, but if you do a search on Google, you can see that in 2002 it was made up of sports executives, journalists, and retired athletes. Again, nobody knows whether these are all, some, or in no part independent of ESPN.

      My only regret with this article is that I spent so many words discussing these awards. I tried to move it towards discussion of Beckham’s record of late as the article progressed. Again, how a nominating committee that is truly knowledgeable and independent fails to include Lionel Messi in a Best Male Athlete discussion is much more negligent than my labeling of the awards as an ESPN vehicle – simply because we have no idea how many ESPN employees are on their nomination committee. We know exactly what Lionel Messi has done. And I’d bet my savings account that if ESPN USA broadcast La Liga matches, Messi would certainly have gotten his due.

  9. TT says:

    The nominating committee, “Truly knowledgeable and independent”?
    Maybe, maybe not… I think its more a matter that they just don’t
    care. Where Messi is concerned, personally I’m a believer. But like
    it or not Messi is simply not relevant to the vast majority of
    Americans. And why should he be? I will say that if in the past
    year he had competed and showed his best in some high profile
    tournament, performing for us… HERE in the states (no matter which
    network broadcasted it), he’d have gotten his applause. ESPN and
    many others would indeed be gushing over him with unending
    superlatives. Had there been a World Cup anywhere in the past year
    and he were a standout performer to the point that Americans took
    notice, I believe he’d have won an ESPY. I apologize for the
    tangent I took in my last post but it was basically to address what
    I believe is at least part of the cause for some of the contempt
    and lack of caring for this sport among everyday American sports

  10. mrditty says:

    Earl, what should the ESPY’s have done to make you happy? All the
    other Best Male Athlete’s deserved to be nominated. Remember this
    is in the United States so you have the best basketball player,
    best football player and best baseball player nominated. That
    leaves you with Messi or Djokovic? I would have taken Messi but at
    the end of the day does it really matter? Messi and Djokovic
    combined would not have had as many votes as Lebron. It’s all about
    relevance in the United States and as much as I love Messi he would
    not have won. Since you discount that the awards are fan voted I
    have a feeling that even if Messi was nominated you would have
    still complained that he didn’t win.

  11. MLS Troll says:

    Who the hell is David Beckham?

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