2012 Olympics: Pros and Cons of Picking David Beckham for Team GB
David Beckham is sporting royalty in Great Britain, but while the public clamors for his inclusion in Team GB's historic soccer squad to compete at the 2012 London Olympics should not be underestimated, his place is not guaranteed.
As reported by the Daily Mail, Great Britain coach Stuart Pearce has been told by Olympics chairman Lord Coe to pick his squad purely on merit—and not be swayed by anything else.
Pearce is currently weighing whether to make Beckham one of his three overage players in the 16-team tournament this summer. To educate his decision, he will be in the stadium to watch Beckham play for L.A. Galaxy in Seattle on Wednesday night, on the same day the former England international turns 37.
This summer will mark the first time since 1971 that a men's football team representing Great Britain has taken to the field. Pearce will be their manager and it's his job to select a squad of 18 players, of which no more than three can have been born after January 1, 1989.
Here are the pros and cons of selecting Beckham in Team GB's squad as they seek to win a home gold medal.
Pro: Tournament Profile
David Beckham remains one of the most famous footballers on the planet, and his presence would be a huge audience draw for the men's Olympics football tournament.
Along with helping to sell tickets for the games themselves—with Team GB taking on Senegal, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay in the group stages—Beckham would also have an impact on TV viewing figures.
When you consider the media coverage that follows Beckham everywhere he goes, he's capable of taking Olympics football to a bigger audience than perhaps ever before.
Con: It's Not a Popularity Contest
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Selecting David Beckham purely on account of his celebrity would undermine the credibility of the tournament.
If Olympics football is to be taken seriously, each squad must be selected on ability alone, and their three overage players must be the best available for each of the competing nations.
If Beckham is deemed one of those, so be it. If not, it's right he's not included.
Pro: Vast Experience
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If David Beckham is selected, he'll offer Team GB the considerable benefit of his vast playing experience.
Beckham has won titles in England, Spain and the U.S. and represented his country at three World Cup finals.
He's played in some huge games and is unlikely to be overawed by the occasion this summer.
Should there present a chance for Beckham to win a game late, he's unlikely to lose his nerve.
Con: Olympics Football Is a Young Man's Game
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David Beckham has kept himself in superb physical condition, but there's no doubting he's slowed down in recent years.
When you consider the majority of his midfield opponents will be 23 and under at the Olympics, there's an argument that he could find himself chasing shadows.
Having said that...
Pro: Beckham the Creator Is Still a Force
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David Beckham remains one of the best passers in the game. With a team of sprightly youngsters making runs everywhere, he could be the perfect man to sit deep and set the tone for Team GB.
He also offers that famed expertise from set-pieces, which in a tournament situation could prove the difference between victory and defeat.
Con: He'll Be a Distraction
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One possible danger with David Beckham is the circus that accompanies him may distract Team GB from the task at hand.
I'm not sure he'd let that happen, however, and you could argue his being the focal point could actually help take pressure away from the younger players.
This one could be a pro or a con.
Pro: Team GB Needs a Leader
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There have been plenty of names bandied around for Team GB's three overage spots, but it's David Beckham who represents the most natural choice for captain, and the team's on-field leader.
Who better to galvanize a young squad than a player who has set the standard for hard work and dedication during his career?
Con: Repurcussions If Team GB Fail
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If David Beckham is picked and Team GB wins gold, you won't hear anybody complaining.
But if they fall at the group stage and Beckham underwhelms, there'll be a media chorus bemoaning the favoritism that led to his selection at the expense of others.
BBC Sport's Gary Lineker is not the only prominent pundit to argue that Beckham is undeserving of a spot on the squad.
Other names reportedly in consideration for the three overage spots include Steven Fletcher, Craig Bellamy, Chris Brunt and Joe Cole (pictured).
Pro and Con: Beckham Deserves a Swan Song
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David Beckham's career has made him an institution in his homeland.
When you take into account his work helping the London 2012 Olympics bid and his role as an ambassador at the games, has the man not earned one last swan song before the public who adore him most?
Or should all sentimentality be put aside in the name of honest competition?
Where I Stand
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I say pick him. David Beckham enjoyed arguably his best season yet with L.A. Galaxy in 2011 and still has much to offer on the field.
Off it, he brings a levelheadedness and maturity that can only help the young players around him, not to mention significantly boost the excitement levels heading into the tournament (though that shouldn't be a factor in the decision).
Over to you, Bleacher Report readers...what do you think?