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Sunday, August 24, 2008

If not Becks, who?

David Beckham's appearance at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics made me ponder a couple of things.

If you want a man to appear on top of a double decker bus with a small child and do something vaguely symbolic involving a ball, he's certainly your man.

But if for any reason he were unavailable, who the hell else would you call?

We hear a lot about the transformation of sportsmen into superstars, how even young names today can parlay their images into big money via massive advertising campaigns for anything from pop to pumps, about how sportsmen today enjoy a level of fame that would have been unknown to earlier generations of athletes.

But if Becks had not been able to do the gig, who would you have called? There isn't another footballer who would have been able to command that degree of recognition and affection. Is there anyone from another sport? I can't think of any. Maybe they aren't as famous as they think they are. They think they're in the same business as Becks. Fact is, they're not on the same planet.