Al Dia ran an interesting story yesterday about the arrival of David Beckham to the MLS, saying that his success here will depend largely on whether he can attract more Hispanic fans to MLS (don't forget that a large chunk of Beckham's contract will come from ticket and jersey sales). Hispanics already account for one-third of the league's fans, according to the story, and may represent even more in cities with a large Hispanic presence, including Los Angeles and Dallas. That percentage could increase, now that Univision has agreed to carry some games.
Still, there are many Hispanic fans, especially recent immigrants, who do not see the MLS as their own. Part of the problem, the story says, is that the soccer is bad.
"The soccer here looks more like American football," a 30-year-old Mexican native is quoted as saying. "They're total klutzes with little grace." That's a rough translation, but it captures the sentiment many Latinos feel for the American version of the game, and explain why many continue to follow teams from their home countries years, even decades and generations, after their families have left.
If Beckham brings something to the league besides just his fame, his tats and his hair -- namely a new level of play to the game -- he could attract more Hispanics to the MLS. But if he's as washed up as some Euros say he is, the fascination will be short lived.
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"I'll go watch one or two of the games to see Beckham play," Rodrigo Diaz, a 32-year-old Mexican immigrant, says in the story. "But if I see that he's not playing well, I won't waste more money." --Jesse Hyde