Ben Olsen as media maven, Anti-Beckham, tireless worker, wedding ceremony performer, and Bride pic proof that the MLS has made it....
I always used to say you’d know the MLS had made it when you started to seeing beer and car commercials on Fox Soccer Channel and GOL TV. You know, ads for Bud and Benz rather than the much loved and becoming but kitschy ads like the Sauna Twin, Kick Medic, and the Perfect Push Up.
Now there’s another sign that the MLS is an accepted part of the American sports world, Ben Olsen’s wedding pictures in Bride magazine. Yeah, Ben Olsen’s wedding pictures in Bride magazine are a signal and proof that the MLS has ascended into the American lexicon of sport. This isn’t Beckham wearing his under wear in an ad hovering over an LA freeway ramp, this is Ben Olsen – the now missing, injured, little engine that could for DC United. I’m just saying that when players who might not be the league’s stars start having their wedding pics in the glosses then the league is well on its way.
But this isn’t Olsen's first foray into the media world, he’s a rising star in the soccer ad world, or at least his wife is or should be. Is that his wife in the Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial? Props to Ben if it is – hard to say exactly from the wedding pics and the commercial, can’t discern clearly if the two girls are one and the same.
I feel sort of paparazzi like in even mentioning the wedding pictures in some ways, but I’ll have to give a hat tip to The Offside Rules for pointing me to the link – they can take part of the blame too – it’s all good fun though of course. Where not chasing down cars and surreptitiously snapping pictures as couples come out of a restaurant.
I guess the real proof the MLS has made it though is when the WAG culture of the EPL and Europe starts moving stateside – the MLS pulling in more fans as their interest spreads from what’s going on while players are on the pitch to what the players do off, who they’re seeing and who they’re marrying.
And in some ways this seems to be happening when you count the Bride magazine pics. Ben's wedding even had a pre-wedding football match, again props to Ben, he knows how to do things in style:
Authentic Jamaican activities helped the 100 guests get a feel for the island. Three days before the December celebration, Ben, a professional soccer player for the D.C. United team, organized a match in town that pitted locals against wedding guests. The rehearsal dinner was held at a jerk chicken shack, where family and friends gathered at picnic tables as a bonfire blazed nearby.
The truth is though, Ben Olsen is becoming more and more of a loved figure in the MLS, just when he's days in the league could be over.
He's become sort of the fan favorite of the league. Or how do you put this? He's sort of the everyman's spokesman. He's the tireless worker, the jokester, and the genuine footballer who's trying to play the right way. And with this or because of this, he's popping up and drawn in by the media, partly because of his personality, partly because of his style of play (tirelessness), and partly becasue he just engages with people and performs wedding ceremonies. He doesn't shun the attention but it seems it doesn't seek it out.
What's the point? The MLS has their sort of anti-Beckham or the working man's Beckham. Here's are few more reasons why the media and fans are drawn to Ben Olsen:
He's had a blog dedicated to his beard.
He's played for the same MLS club his whole career.
There are other MLS players who could be deemed as fan favorites or media mavens, players like Jimmy Conrad, Bobby Boswell, Dwayne De Rosario, Craig Waibel, and others I’m sure. But again, the media maven is someone who doesn't seek the camera, rather, it just gravitates towards them for some reason, so you have to rule out some players. Dwayne could be the media darling but his a bit too aloof, and in some ways that's what makes him more interesting, but his reggae style is too, let's say, eccentric almost for most. He's too cool.
Moreover, to get this fan favorite media maven title you have to be willing to talk to the media and meet them half way sometimes but hold on to your own style.
To top it all off, Ben Olsen can really play this game, let's hope his career hasn't come to an end due to his injury just when he might become the face of the league whether he's got a beard or not.
Ben Olsen Highlights
Correction: Beckham I think has gotten a bad rap in some ways, in terms of the attention he gets. He doesn’t necessarily seek it out. He's more a product, Posh plus Beckham equaling media blitz. When he plays all he cares about his playing well and winning, so you can't really fault him when it comes to playing soccer. I guess I just use the term Anti-Beckham as a means of explanation.