I'm just not that into you

GARETH WHEELER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

David Beckham?

You and I are through.

Done, kaput, finished.

It's been said in the past on my show, The Casino Rama Grill Room, that I've got a man-crush on Beckham.

I assure you, although I'm a fan of Beckham's, there's no man-crush.

Admittedly, I've stuck up for the guy and Major League Soccer countless times against the anti-soccer panelists bombarding my show.

But if a man-crush was ever the case, it's officially over now.

And it's not because the loan deal between AC Milan and the L.A. Galaxy to keep Beckham with the Italian club until June 30 finally has been completed, making the Galaxy a team of secondary importance to Becks.

What Beckham or his people decided for him to do didn't matter anywhere near as much as we were told it did.

His significance has been over-blown, over-hyped, leading to the redundant exercise in rumour-mongering and story-digging.

I'm done talking and writing about Beckham and any drawn-out, sensationalized, mind-numbing story involving the poster-boy.

LAZY JOURNALISM

The entire "Will he stay or will he go?" charade was just plain lazy journalism. Beckham was the easy story.

Easy, in that whether Beckham stayed or left had no bearing on the long-term viability of MLS.

Easy, in that whether Beckham stayed with Milan or not, there's little chance he'll play a major part for England in South Africa 2010.

Easy, in that Beckham is the flavour of the month in Italy, a place where his game can flourish in the slowed-down brand of Italian soccer and a place that hadn't fully had the Beckham experience.

The constant Beckham-watch reporting, more TMZ than ESPN, made Beckham out to be something he never has been. He never was the guy who was going to make soccer America's game. Nor is he the guy who buries it.

Beckham is what he is: A very good soccer player caught in a megastar's body and lifestyle. He chose that route and has reaped the benefits and deals with the pitfalls that come with it.

It's up to the soccer media to distinguish between what's relevant when it comes to Beckham and what isn't.

The fact that FC Barcelona pulled out of its Miami expansion bid using Beckham's uncertain future as a reason speaks more to the weakness of the bid than anything else. Quite frankly, good riddance -- the league doesn't need teams entering the fray solely based on Beckham. What kind of business model is that?

At this point, how much Beckham has helped or hurt MLS cannot be gauged by specific numbers. Attendance, ratings, and jersey sales are all short-term indicators, but the long-term effect, based on new eyes seeing the North American brand, will be told over time.

How much did Beckham influence Seattle selling upwards of 20,000 season tickets for their upcoming expansion season? Or is it fair to say they've done a fantastic job marketing the team with reality television shows and such to a soccer-thirsty market?

Likewise, the current MLS expansion bids on the table have little to do with Beckham and are more about the growth of the game, especially professionally, across North America.

This would have happened with Beckham or not.

Not to mention the quality of play in MLS is improving and the U.S. national team is a popular as ever.

Even on the negative side, there was nothing Beckham could to do make MLS franchises in bad markets more watchable. Beckham couldn't convince non-fans that the game was any more watchable, with or without him.

Ownership, stadium situations, marketing, and genuine interest in the American brand will determine whether MLS will sink or swim -- not Beckham.

So as a collective, let's all take a deep breath and put what's gone down into perspective.

Beckham's just one player. And perhaps Brand Beckham going Italian is more about what David can gain by playing in Italy at this point than an indictment on MLS.

From now on, let's talk about on-field stories soccer fans care about. The mindless Beckham stories are officially dead to me.


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