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The BBC's Richard Bilton
Most students think it's a good idea
 real 28k

Professor Ellis Cashmore
"He's the object of a great many fantasies"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 29 March, 2000, 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK
Beckham in degree course
David Beckham
David Beckham: Icon of icons?
Students are to study footballer David Beckham as part of their university degrees.

He's the object of a great many fantasies, and he and his wife seem to mesmerise the population

Professor Ellis Cashmore
The Manchester United star's new haircut, marriage to Posh Spice, and sending off against Argentina in the World Cup will all come under the spotlight as part of the football culture course offered by Staffordshire University.

Staff are expecting the 12-week course to be oversubscribed as students scramble for places on it.

The course is being offered as a module which students studying media studies, sociology or sports science may choose to take as part of their degrees.

Professor Ellis Cashmore, lecturer in culture, media and sports studies, stressed that the course would not focus on Beckham.

But he said the 24-year-old player, who he has described as the "icon of icons", would be a significant feature of it.

ellis cashmore
Prof Cashmore: "Beckham embodies the spirit of the times"
"We'll be examining the rise of football from its folk origins in the 17th century, to the power it's become and the central place it occupies in British culture, and indeed world culture, today," he said.

"We do have to concede that Beckham occupies a lot of our attention today.

"He's the object of a great many fantasies, and he and his wife seem to mesmerise the population, so we will be looking at the reasons why this has come about.

"He married very well, and he's a good-looking guy, and he's gifted with a fair degree of technical skills.

'He doesn't do much'

"I think he embodies the spirit of the times, he doesn't actually say much or do much - unlike icons of the past, he doesn't take a political stand or engage with any kind of social issues of the day.

"But maybe that's just we want in the early 21st century, a person who doesn't actually do much, but onto which we can displace all our fantasies.

"He occupies so much of our attention, we write and we talk about him. He is a central figure in our culture at the moment, like him or loathe him."

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