LA Galaxy fans are angry that David Beckham accepted an offer to play with AC Milan while still under contract to Galaxy, and rightly so. After all, Beckham's contract with Galaxy is valued at $250 million, and nobody likes the idea that they've thrown away good money on a lemon.
But let's keep things in perspective. Who is really to blame for this situation? Can we legitimately hold it against the player simply because some idiot lawyer forgot to build an exclusivity clause into the contract?
Beckham is indeed one of the greatest non-Brazilian players in the game, and that status should be respected. He is a player that every team wants to have, and many are willing to pay large sums for the privilege. So why should he be vilified just for doing what anybody else in the same position would do?
The problem is that Beckham is the only target that the public really can visibly and publicly direct their anger at, however misdirected that anger may be. The real culprits for the fiasco are those sitting in the ivory tower hiding behind the camouflage afforded by their business suits.
Fans who question where Beckham's loyalty lies have only to look at which color shirt he wore when LA Galaxy played against AC Milan.
As Beckham once said to Michael Parkinson during an interview, every time he goes onto the field, he only has one thing on his mind—to play the best game that he can.
Considering how successful he has been and continues to be, it is remarkable that he doesn't have the prima donna attitude common to many other elite players.
In general he is able to absorb the abuse and jeers of the crowd. It's not that he is indifferent to the fans—far from it—it is just that he is so intensely focused on his game.
But every now and then, somebody will cross the line of decency. Instead of just heckling the man himself, they start insulting (and sometimes even threatening) his wife and children.
That kind of thing is clearly unacceptable and I'm always amazed that other people in the crowd don't whop the guy's ass for behaving like that. It is on those kind of occasions that Beckham's cool exterior breaks down a little.
But even then he tries to take the diplomatic approach. He simply tries to impart a little reason to the offender, and remind them that it is just a game of football and not a major World War.
Such was the case when a disgruntled fan got himself arrested at the Home Depot stadium. After hurling abuse at Beckham that just cut a little too close to the quick to be ignored, Beckham did something that he is renowned for doing on the other side of pond when fans go a little bit berko.
According to Beckham's recollection of the incident, he said something to the spectator along the lines of "You need to calm down and come shake my hand," which is all very well in England but quite a different thing in America.
There are lot of crazy people in America who will do much more than just shake your hand if given half a chance.
When the spectator actually did jump the fence (and I have little doubt that his intentions were probably perfectly benign) he was promptly restrained by the more situationally-aware security guards.
The man has now been charged with trespass, and I can't help but feel that David Beckham is partly responsible for this because he let himself forget about where he was. But that doesn't mean that the spectator should have lost his common sense.
No matter how angry you may feel about Beckham's situation, you would probably benefit greatly from taking a rational look at things and ask yourself if you honestly would not do the same thing if you were in his shoes.
And while you're at it, don't forget to send a letter to the management of the LA Galaxy soccer club telling them how you feel about their stupidity. After all, if you're going to get angry, you might as well ensure that you're directing that anger at the right people.