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Los Angeles Fans Let Beckham Hear It

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Mike DeCourcy, who wrote this post, is Sporting News' senior college basketball writer and an avid soccer nut.
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↵The fans at Staples Center warmly chanted Kobe Bryant’s name. ↵

↵The audience at Dodger Stadium presented Manny Ramirez with a standing ovation. ↵

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↵At the Home Depot Center, David Beckham was booed, jeered and insulted personally enough he felt compelled to call out one fan. He was labeled a “fraud” by another angry spectator carrying a sign. ↵

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↵What is fascinating about these three circumstances is they all involve sports fans of Los Angeles reacting to major news events involving their city’s athletes: ↵

↵-- Bryant was celebrated after flying in for a playoff game during his May 2004 hearing on sexual assault charges (which later were dismissed). ↵

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↵-- Ramirez was honored upon returning from a 50-game suspension mandated under baseball’s rules regarding performance-enhancing drugs. ↵

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↵-- Beckham was scorned upon his return from a loan deal to Italy’s AC Milan, which kept him from the Los Angeles Galaxy for roughly half their season and probably will take him out of the lineup for a good bit of next season, as well. ↵

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↵The inevitable conclusion to draw from the juxtaposition of these episodes is that the sports fans of Los Angeles – and perhaps, by extension, the United States – are willing to forgive a lot, but never disloyalty. ↵

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↵The circumstances of Beckham’s return to LA could not have been worse, of course. Sunday’s exhibition against AC Milan was a most obvious reminder of Beckham’s infidelity. It was like a husband reconciling with his wife following a protracted affair -- but bringing home the woman he’d bedded for a little Sunday dinner. ↵

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↵And because the game didn’t count, fans could distract Beckham all they wanted without worrying about it affecting the Galaxy’s place in the MLS standings. ↵

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↵Beckham was brought to LA largely to change the behavior of the American sports fan, to make him more interested in aware of soccer. That hasn’t worked out precisely as planned. The American fan may change tastes, but the fundamental position remains the same: You’re either with us, or against us. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.