If you have 47 minutes to kill and you want to know how David Beckham single handedly transformed MLS from deadbeat to drumbeat. No I kid. Actually, Beckham’s legacy is mixed. He did not quite match Alexi Lalas’s hyperbole of saviour of football. But he isn’t also quite the write off.
Americans didn’t abandon their sporting interests in droves to take to an imported sport because of Beckham other than an initial spike out of curiosity. And attendances with him as a marquee name have flat-lined in the MLS for some time now. It took the Galaxy five years to win the MLS so we can dispel the instant impact argument.
His contribution has been felt more at a player level. What he did was to make the MLS a respectable league for a number of well known footballers with some treads left seeking an after life. He was the first to take advantage of the asynchronous MLS season to seek the now trendy short term loan to the bigger European leagues. Donovan, Thierry Henry, and Robbie Keane have benefited from that exposure immensely.
There have been unintended consequences too with the relatively huge DP salaries driving the need to improve the salaries of the rest of the league to avoid the “class warfare” label. Beckham’s unique DP status also improved player potability giving the club more independence to exercise that clause and in lieu going to draft picks and trades.