The Beckham Experiment: How the World's Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America
In 2007, David Beckham, the golden boy of soccer, shocked the international sports world when he signed a five-year contract with an American team, the Los Angeles Galaxy. Under the direction of his manager, Simon Fuller, the mastermind behind American Idol and the Spice Girls, Beckham was ready for a monumental challenge and a risky adventure–ready, as Fuller put it, to earn his stripes Stateside. Could he pull off what no player had ever accomplished (including Pelé in the 1970s) and transform soccer into one of the most popular spectator sports in America? It was a bold experiment: failure meant a team, a league, a sport, and Beckham himself might miss their chance to hit primetime in the U.S.
With unprecedented access to the Galaxy and one-on-one interviews with Beckham, veteran Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl focuses on the inner circle of the experiment: Beckham, Galaxy leading scorer Landon Donovan, Simon Fuller, controversial former coach Ruud Gullit, outspoken former Galaxy president Alexi Lalas, and Mrs. Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham. Wahl takes readers behind the scenes, on the road with the team and inside the locker room, to reveal just what happened on and off the field when the most renowned player in the world left the glamour of European soccer to play in a country that has yet to fully embrace the sport. We find out what his teammates really think of their superstar captain, who was calling the shots behind the scenes, how Beckham’s management conducted a shadow takeover of the Galaxy organization, and if the team plans to embrace him–or not–when he returns from AC Milan for the 2009 season.
The Beckham Experiment is a no-holds-barred account of ego clashes and epic winless streaks, rivalries and resentments, big gambles and great expectations, cultural and class collisions, and ultimately the volatile mix of celebrity and professional sports. As Beckham embarks on his third season with the Galaxy, the question remains: even for a player the caliber of David Beckham, are some goals out of reach?
From the Hardcover edition.
"You Can't Escape the Field"
By Steve Amoia - July 14, 2009
"Three seasons into Beckham's American adventure, the same question remained: Would it ever be about the soccer?" That was the last sentence of the book, and it easily could have been the first.
Amidst great hopes and unrealistic expectations ("Beckham will have a greater impact on soccer in America than any athlete has ever had on a sport globally." Tim Leiweke, CEO of AEG), the experiment has been a commercial success, and raised the profile of MLS. But as Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary manager of Manchester United, said, "You can't escape the field." It was a theme that the author stressed with regularity, and one that apparently escaped American soccer promoters during their formulation of this grand experiment.
Grant Wahl, in a very detailed, entertaining, and enlightening book, provides the reader with answers why the experiment has not achieved all of its objectives. The portrait was an extremely balanced analysis that was not dumbed down to sell more... read more
Far more enjoyable than I expected
By Paul Allaer - September 20, 2009
Let me state upfront that, having grown up in Europe, I was (and still am) a huge soccer fan. So when the annoucenment came in 2007 that David Beckham would be joining the LA Galaxy, I was mightily surprised--and intruiged.
In "The Beckham Experiment: How the Wold's Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America" (302 pages), auhtor Grant Wahl (from Sports Illustrated) brings us the juice background details of the transfer that brought Beckham from Real Madris to the Galaxy, and how the grand experiment evolved from there. I will admit that I don't follow the MLS that closely, and so for me a lot of new details emerged in this book that I was unaware of. The book really shines in the second half, when we get insight on how the 2008 season unfolds, with a promising start for the Galaxy, followed by a 15 game (that's half the regular season) downward spiral in which it can manage only 1 win. The author is not kind in his assessment of Beckham, in perticular his lack of... read more
ably captures the culture clash between Becks and Galaxy
By JoshJosh - August 14, 2009
When David Beckham arrived in LA, a lot of people were understandably shocked. Beckham is one of the world's most successful and recognized athletes. He was arriving in one of the world's most cosmpolitan and famous cities, backed by a PR machine unrivaled in the English speaking world. But he was doing it to play America's 5th most popular (at best) sport in a league that is currently ranked as the 77th best soccer league in the world, between Algeria and Macedonia.
What happened was fairly predictable. Sure, Becks made a splash and sold lots of t-shirts and was a hit with the gossip rags. But Beckham didn't fit in with the players and the players did not fit in with him. The two alpha males of the Galaxy clashed almost instantly. Beckham was shocked by the bush league operations of the MLS. The fans did not like him once the honeymoon wore off. Club management was alienated and unqualified people got too much control over the club. Worst of all, the club did not... read more
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