For five full minutes, I thought Becks could save U.S. soccer, caught up in all the hoopla as I was. But the problem with professional soccer isn't the lack or presence of any one superstar player.
The problem with soccer is soccer.
The parents of four million kids registered their hyperactive progeny in soccer leagues across America. Soccer is the perfect parent sport. Kids run around in a million directions. They get thoroughly exhausted. They learn the basics of offense and defense using great big goals. Mostly they run around and dramatically fall down. A lot.
In professional soccer, the only difference is that the players run around faster with more skill and fall down with panache. And the stretchers that carry the "injured" players are kinda cool, too.
My opinion shifted away from savior and toward sideshow, part way through the game when one of the athletes flopped on the ground, writhing in pretend pain. Now basketball, my favorite sport, has their floppers (my favorite is Bill Laimbeer who always had a method to his madness) and they generally get on my nerves, too. Even Tim Duncan has turned into a world class whiner and I've always loved his play, but I hate the whining. I hate whining from superstars. I hate whining from no-name soccer players who just want a break because they're tired from running around for hours.
"Man up!" My brother exclaimed watching the histrionics. He claims that Americans want blood and guts not pretty boys running, falling, flailing and curling into the fetal position on the field after some minor contact. Football, real football, has complicated strategy and requires brains and brawn. Basketball, requires speed, agility and intricate team work.
Soccer requires endurance. Too much endurance. Mostly, it requires that fans can endure the aimless running around for hours on end. That might be great for parents watching their kids--they get tired kids out of the deal. But who wants to spend three hours and get a bunch of nothing?
I'll give Beckham this, though. He's hot.