No guarantees in pro sports

JODY VANCE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:06 AM ET

With the Los Angeles Galaxy arriving in town tomorrow, the inevitable nay-sayers are predicting backlash from fans if the golden-haired chosen one wearing No. 23 doesn't hit the pitch.

C'mon, Canadian sports fans are far too savvy to expect compensation in this regard.

This story of "what's in it for me if he doesn't play?" began earlier this week when Beckham, who is nursing an ankle injury, didn't travel with his Galaxy squad to Texas Tuesday for a SuperLiga match vs. FC Dallas. Fans were disappointed -- prompting FC Dallas to promise first dibs to attendees for the next meeting between the two clubs in Big D.

Mistake! This sets a precedent that could be a can of worms in the world of sports.

There should be no guarantees when it comes to who will or will not play -- period.

Can you imagine if hockey fans were afforded this luxury if the star player they had hoped to see was out hurt? The flow chart to ensure compensation would be more complicated than trying to figure out salary caps.

Yes, it's true FC Dallas used Beckham's star power to charge higher ticket prices for the game. Deluxe field seats went on sale at US$250, twice the price of comparable seats for a normal game. But premium prices are not a new idea. Heck, the Jays do it. Seeing the Yankees will cost more than Devil Rays or Royals tickets. And you can't ask for a refund if Joe Torre decided that A-Rod and Derek Jeter can't play.

In European soccer, squad rotation, where coaches strategically rest superstars, is normal, so there is no guarantee of seeing star players even if you have tickets to see Liverpool take on Manchester United.

Back to Beckham mania. This phenomenon is one that should not overshadow the amazing inaugural season, thus far, for Toronto FC.

Sure, Aug. 5 has been circled on every Toronto soccer fan's calendar for a very long time -- "Beckham Canadian Debut" is certainly cool -- but people please don't cry foul if he's off injured.

At just the midway point of this inaugural season, it's obvious TFC has delivered as advertised to soccer fans. The numbers do not lie. The passion that explodes in the stands at BMO Field punctuates that soccer in Canada is here to stay and is rooted in far more than just offering up a glimpse of Becks.

In fact, TFC gear ranks second in sales only to the team that boasts Beckham. You can't find tickets to any TFC game, whether the team is playing Chivas or D.C. United, let alone the "Beckham game."

The upside of having those who might not otherwise have gone to Sunday's tilt without Becks -- they just might find that soccer, even without the toast of Hollywood, is out of this world.

Jody Vance is a sportscaster with Leafs TV. Her columns appear Tuesday and Thursdays in 24 hours. jody.vance@tor.sunpub.com.


Videos

Photos