So the Prince of European soccer, David Beckham, is doing his best Eddie Murphy impression and Coming to America. Apparently, Mr. Beckham is an international multi-media superstar-idol-sex symbol. He supposedly makes women hot, men sweat, dogs drool, and plants blossom. I heard even the sun shines a little brighter to get Beckham's attention. He also plays soccer as well.
Now, I don't know a thing about soccer other than put the ball in the goal and protect the family jewels on a penalty kick, but I do know this: 250 million dollars over five years is a lot of cash.
David Beckham is going to make 50 million dollars a year to play soccer in America. 50 million. Why are people not shocked over this?
Sure, there are American athletes making that much money already. Shaquille O'Neal and Tiger Woods immediately come to mind. They and others are our top athletes in our top "American" sports. But to play soccer?
In 2004, the top salary in Major League Soccer was $350,000, far less than the median major league baseball player's salary. In 2006, only the average Colorado Rockie and Florida Marlin made less. Shockingly, the lowest MLS salary in 2004 was guaranteed for $50,000. David Beckham will make 500 times that amount during his career with the LA Galaxy. To put that number in perspective, the highest paid baseball player would have to make over 163 million dollars to make 500 times the salary of many of the Marlins' 2006 rookies.
Granted, Beckham is going to make a majority of his money through endorsements. But can his advertising star shine as bright in America as it does in Europe? Honestly, I don't think so. He and wife Posh Spice may grace the cover of Vogue, Us Weekly, and even Sports Illustrated, but I think his lack of cross-over appeal will hurt his American marketability. He is a rich European white guy without much street credibility playing an unpopular sport. Sure, Peyton Manning is short on "props", but he is a folksy fellow with a decent sense of humor playing America's most popular sport. With soccer's lack of appeal, I don't see Beckham's money-making potential being as high as that of any popular American athlete.
Beckham may be a curiosity for a year or two, a so-called "Soccer Messiah" destined to bring the sport to the masses of America, but eventually the buzz will fade. Beckham will then either choose to end his career here in the States or return to Europe. And where does that leave the LA Galaxy? Call me a doubter, but money and big contracts don't automatically win championships, just ask Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees.