Beckham To America: Can He Kick-Start U.S. Soccer?

David Beckham, the soccer phenomenon from the U.K., just signed a 5-year deal to come play in the States. He’ll be playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy and British news reports put the deal at $250 million, which would be the largest contract for one individual in the history of sports. The deal is obviously big – but just how big? Darren Rovell gave his thoughts on “Morning Call.”

Rovell says Beckham’s move across the pond is “the biggest thing to come to [Major League Soccer]” so far, but he isn’t willing to say it’s the deal breaker for the struggling league. “This is a 31-year-old David Beckham. This isn’t the David Beckham from 5 or 6 years ago,” Rovell says.

But Rovell did say if there is any chance for soccer to become mainstream in America – this is it. Beckham is a true international superstar who transcends the sport and MLS intends to cash in on this.

Rovell says the league’s hope is that it will be like “a ballet teacher going to see Michael Jordan” play basketball. If Beckham can bring in “fringe viewers” to the sport – those who wouldn’t normally watch, but will tune in just to see him play – then the league will benefit from the deal.

Rovell noted soccer’s problem in the U.S. has been that it’s mainly a participatory sport. Young kids play it – then they stop as they get older and they don’t become fans. Tapping a star like Beckham to play stateside is a gamble, especially in the long-term, he says. There’s no question he will get big buzz this coming year - but what about for the next 4 years? Will David Beckham be able to breathe life into soccer in this country? Stay tuned.