One thing is for sure David Beckham is going to get a response from people

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 19: (L-R) President of AEG Tim Leiweke, midfielder David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy and Head Coach Bruce Arena of the Los Angeles Galaxy present Beckham with his new jersey during the press conference announcing David Beckham's new contract at Staples Center on January 19, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

So since the first announcement of his arrival David Beckham has been a lightning rod of both positive and negative reactions, I mean heck Grant Wahl even got a book out of the thing. I have heard about every argument for and against him over the last 5 years and to be honest very few of the points made on either side hold a lot of weight for me. I try to, like with most things look at both sides of an issue (for me that means as a fan and from the business side of things) and even when I do that again very few of the points in the pro or anti-Beckham camps hold up.

I can however understand why LA Galaxy fans, MLS HQ folks, MLS sponsors, and others think that he is simply the best thing to ever happen to MLS. I can also understand how fans of other teams see him as the poster child for all things wrong with Major League Soccer. After the jump some points that simply can't be argued:

  • He brings attention (be it good or bad) to Major League Soccer - Now one only has to look at the circus of this off-season to understand that not just in LA or MLS is David Beckham big news. You can question if the attention he brings is good for the league or not, but you can't question that people around the world still pay attention when the story is about David Beckham.
  • He puts butts in seats - So while the impact of David Beckham on TV ratings is questionable at best, there is one reality he does put butts in seats. At the Home Depot Center the average attendance was over 23K again last year (2nd to Seattle) and on the road the LA Galaxy draw an average of over 22K the best in the league (NYRB is second with over 21K), no other road team even averages 19K. So love him or hate him people do come out to see him.
  • He delivered a MLS Cup - while it took longer than most expected Beckham, Donovan, and Keane became the first Designated Players to lift MLS Cup. If you look back over the last 4 years, the reality is that LA has been a top team in MLS, either at the top of the table (back to back Supporters' Shields), or in the playoffs (played in 2 MLS Cups in 3 years).
  • More than just money - For LA the move to get and keep Beckham, the efforts to keep Landon Donovan, and the willingness to pick up Robbie Keane show that for AEG it is about more than money (at least in the short term). The Galaxy don't have 10K season ticket holders (at least they didn't in 2009,10 or at the start of 11- according to a league source), they finally got a big time TV deal (at the end of last year), but the moves they have made appear to be more about establishing a brand than about turning a quick profit. David showed when he chose to return to LA that it wasn't just about the money as other teams were offering him more than he is going to get the next two seasons. Both of those are good things in my book.
Now I know a number of fans from a number of teams that find all the attention that David and LA get more than just a bit annoying. I know that many think that MLS bends over far too often to be accommodating to LA and Beckham, I am one of them, but the reality is that AEG and Tim Leiweke are willing to spend the money. It is kinda funny that in the middle or writing this ESPN LA reports that their plan is to rival the Cosmos brand, I said funny because many people believe the free spending of the Cosmos and attempts of other teams to "keep up" something Leiweke challenges other MLS teams to do:
"We challenge the rest of the league to rise to the occasion like us," Leiweke said. "Join us and be right there with us and compete with us and aspire to be that good. Challenge us on if we're going to be the best brand ever and prove us wrong and I hope you do. We challenge every other club to now come to this level and join us and spend the money and go get the players that at the end of the day will change this sport forever."
ESPN LA
, is what eventually caused the collapse of the NASL.

I asked the question on twitter about a month ago if people thought MLS would add a 4th DP spot this year, and most of them didn't. I did and I do, it is for this simple reason LA and New York Red Bulls will want them to, in order to secure their spots at the top of the league the parent companies behind the teams are willing to dig deep into their pockets and MLS's leadership is going to again convince everyone else in the league that this is a good thing.

Just to be clear I have no problem with LA spending as much money as they want within the rules, but I do have a problem when the league continues to change the rules. If LA wants to spend more money, then they should push MLS to raise the overall salary cap, allow each team to build their team up how they want instead of trying to force teams to sign just expensive players. The DP rule has been a very mixed bag for MLS teams, and I for one would much rather see the salary cap grow so teams can build depth and do more than just reward a couple of players with big deals.

I know most of my readers aren't big fans of Beckham, but I can't blame the guy for anything he has done. I know most of my readers hate the LA Galaxy, but I can't blame their team for doing what they have done. If the playing field has been tilted in their favor, well that is the fault of MLS.

OFF MY SOAPBOX
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