As this is David Beckham's first playing visit to Vancouver in five years, I think now is the appropriate time to have this conversation.
You see, I like David Beckham. He is, by most accounts, as well-grounded as anybody could ever be if they were one of the ten most popular people in the world. The Beckham Experiment aside, most of his $50,000-a-year teammates seem to get along with him on the field. He is also, at age 37, a quality player who you can count on for a full effort: his on-field value to the Los Angeles Galaxy certainly meets his $350,000 salary cap hit. His hair is stupid, his tattoos even stupider, but I'd say the same thing about Eric Hassli and I still love the guy.
Outside of Los Angeles, Beckham comes in for a lot of mockery among the North American diehard soccer fan: the MLS haters see the fact that a 37-year-old is one of the league's best midfielders as a sign that MLS is surely a glorified pub league (who the fuck is Ryan Giggs?), and MLS lovers see the attention and affection Beckham gets from the soccer media (including me; sorry guys) as something he deserves to be hated for, even as many of them acknowledge the positive impact he's had on the league.
Of course, the Beckham fan club can be annoying. I can promise you that, at BC Place, there will be a few thousand Vancouverites there who care nothing for the Whitecaps. This will make me swear on Twitter. At Olympic Stadium earlier this year, a number of Montreal Impact players were dismayed to notice their fans in their stadium cheering on Mr. Posh Spice. These people are annoying and should be educated. But if they were hopeless duffers who had no interest in soccer at all, they wouldn't be shelling out for 90 minutes of soccer; education is possible, as we see every time an old Eurosnob is dragged to an MLS game and says "this isn't at all bad, actually."
Naturally, I hope Beckham is held off the scoresheet at BC Place, his every touch bounces right to Jun Marques Davidson, and after Russell Teibert nutmegs Becks to score his hat trick he does the finger wave right in his face. But that's no reason for me to hate a player who did for MLS what Bobby Hull did for the World Hockey Association: providing credibility, interest to the casual fan, and a few years of quality play in exchange for a fittingly enormous paycheque.
It's also no reason for me to piss on those who are from Vancouver but at BC Place tonight for the sake of ol' #23. In fact, the one conversation I would have with people like that is about the game. Not a bad one, eh? That Gershon Koffie is a special young player. You should come out Saturday. League leaders are in town; Chris Wondolowski is always worth a look. Sure, he's not as famous as Beckham, but you sure seemed to have a lot of fun every time all those non-Beckham players had the ball...
It's a much more effective speech than "fuck you", and it gives Becks his deserved due into the bargain.