Matthew Kitchen, NBC Olympics
*Note: The editors here aren’t big fans of swearing (we’re not Grantland, after all) so please feel free to include your own coarse language throughout this post wherever you see fit.
After a late night watching Missy Franklin lock up her spot in London, we woke to our phone buzzing across the nightstand. There was no text in the body of the email, just a subject line simply read “NO Beckham.” That was pretty much all we needed to know that Stuart Pearce had made a colossal error.
Instead of giving Becks one of the over-23 spots on the British team, Pearce selected Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy, and Micah Richards. All fine footballers, and some arguably better than David Beckham, who at 37 can’t quite bend things the way he used to. But to leave the face of English soccer off the team at the London Games is borderline despicable. Add that to the fact that Danny Boyle left the Spice Girls out of the Opening Ceremony and it’s been a bad week for London’s most visible couple.
Beckham has said all along that he wanted to be judged on merit, not past play or celebrity status or how he looks when switching shirts at the end of the match, and we openly agreed. After all, we wouldn’t want to fill Team USA basketball with legends past their prime (then again, we found a spot on the Dream Team for Larry Bird, whose back was beyond repair by 1992). But silently we assumed it didn’t matter. Beckham was going to carry the Torch, play for the team, win gold, and then run for Prime Minister. Done and done, right?
Nope. Even after we offered Pearce some great reasons why he should should include Becks (first and foremost: the Beatles and teenage girls) he’ll now begin his role as ambassador, grimacing through his million dollar smile while saying it’s not a big deal and he’ll root for the team and hope they win and all that. He already has. “Naturally I am very disappointed,” Beckham said in a statement to the AP. “But there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me. And like everyone, I will be hoping they can win the gold.”
We’re not buying it. Beckham has had all the professional success one can ask for, but he’s always been for “Queen and country” and all that, including playing a vital role in bringing the Games to London. Imagine if, after Becks has given all his time, effort, and passion to playing for his national team – playing above board during failed trips to the Euros, Olympics, and World Cup – the Brits finally win with him sitting, not even on the sidelines, but in a box next to Sebastian Coe and the gang.
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