Putting BeckhamGate in Perspective

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Beckhamgate: It’s not like Beckham shot somebody. He’s just returned to the MLS to play some soccer. I think the news media is using David Beckham to gain viewers and visitors to their TV stations, web properties and newspapers. Or at least it seems that way, since stories surrounding Beckham that don’t seem like big stories at all, are being trumpeted as if they are.  Especially when you compare these controversies with other past controversies in professional sports.

Beckham arguing with an LA Galaxy fan near the stands – Beckhamgate. Real in sports is you’re never supposed to fight with your own fans.

I guess that’s on par for the norm though with most of the media.  They’ve got to push Britney and Lindsey and Beckham to get the page views.  I can understand that.

And actually, it might just be the MLS who is doing most of the using, although paying Beckham a pretty penny to do so. All this controversy isn’t so bad, it’s a good buzz for the league.

But I wanted to put the Beckham engaging a fan and shaking the hand of a fan, the so called ‘controversy’, into perspective. Of all the controversies in the world of sports, this must be the weakest and hum drum.  Some stories in the media make it seem like Beckham stabbed a fan in the back, destroyed the LA Galaxy club, or as if the fan was trying to break away from the crowd and attack Beckham – it wasn’t much of anything though.

A guy is trying to play the most soccer he can in the off season, with the best team he can, so he pays out of his own pocket to extend his loan agreement with a world class club.  He is then vilified in the media, his commitment questioned by one of his own teammates, and then booed by some of his own fans in his first home game against the team he played for on loan. When in truth, they would never had had the chance to play that team if he didn’t play on loan for them (AC Milan).

Beckham then proceeds to call out one of the fans, who jumps down to talk to him, and the fan is banned for life (this has been rescinded, fortunately).  Beckham then talks to a fan on the sidelines wearing an England jersey, shakes his hand, and more controversy ensues.  Beckham must be stopped.

Beckham of course should refrain from talking to any fans (what about those young girls who want his autograph though) or perhaps any media for a while (what are they going to do for stories and quotes though).  Grant Wahl has no book without Beckham on the cover.

The answer: Maybe they can make Beckham a bubble boy, or create a special tunnel that he walks in and out of before and after the games. Or, as in jail or in prison, a protective glass between the press and Beckham, mikes they both can speak into.

However, I’m sure some professional athletes understand what he’s going through and give him credit for not backing down. Standing up for himself and his family and his wife.

The main point though is this is so much about nothing, especially when you compare it to other controversies in the world of sport.

Take a look at what some other athletes have done in comparison to Beckham’s brutal yelling and shaking of a fans hand and leaving the club to play on loan so he can play in the World Cup:

Michael Vick, served a 23-month federal prison term for running a dogfighting ring.  Vick was just reinstated to the NFL.

Ron Artest, ran into the stands after a plastic cup with beer was thrown on him.  He is now a Los Angeles Laker.

Eric Cantona, karate kicked a fan in the chest after he was thrown out of a match with Manchester United.  He is a legend at Manchester United.

Kobe Bryant, was accused of sexual assault by a 19 year old hotel employee in a Colorado resort, he said it was consensual sex.  The case was eventually settled. Just won another NBA title.

Ray Lewis, linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens was accused of a double murder after a post-Super Bowl party in Atlanta.  Lewis was cleared of the charges in exchange for a guilty plea to obstructing the police investigation and fined $250,000 by the NFL.

Ricardo Clark, the Houston Dynamo midfielder was suspended for nine games and fined $10,000 for a brutally kicking FC Dallas forward Carlos Ruiz.  He may join a Serie A side after a successful Confederations Cup run.

Barry Bonds, accused of using steroids – booed and had a syringe thrown at him, didn’t talk to any fans and some say he ruined baseball.  He is the home run record holder.

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