Thursday, June 21, 2007 at 9:34 AM
This weekend, David Beckham celebrated the end of his time at legendary club Real Madrid by winning the Spanish league title. The next stop in his career is Los Angeles, where he'll be playing for the not-so-legendary LA Galaxy. Beckham's move to America looks like a case of a big fish in a small pond: many in the British press wrote his career off after the transfer was announced. But perhaps with Beckham's star power, soccer will finally take off in America. If you're not familiar with soccer (or football, as it's called in the rest of the world), here are some books to get you up to speed by the time Beckham arrives in California.
For a very personal introduction to the game, I highly recommend Eduardo Galeano's book, Soccer in Sun and Shadow. This book is a series of vignettes that take you through some of the highlights of soccer, using individual games and players as vehicles to express the emotional history of the sport. While telling the story of some of the more entertaining players to have graced the game, Galeano also shares his own experiences as a fan and player. Soccer: The Ultimate Guide to the Beautiful Game has more pragmatic information, guiding newbies on rules and tactics.
If you're wondering how soccer could ever catch on in America, you're not alone: Andrei Markovits and Steven Hellerman wrote an entire study on the topic of soccer's position within American sports: Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism. The authors aren't overly optimistic about soccer's chances, but then again, the book was published in 2001, when it may have seemed inconceivable that someone like Beckham would choose to play soccer in America. While we're back on the topic of Beckham, why not check out one of his autobiographies -- by which I actually mean "one of his ghost-written autobiographies" (sorry Dave!).