Sports Illustrated senior writer Grant Wahl is the author of The Beckham Experiment: How the World’s Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America. From his Q & A with Jack Bell at the New York Times soccer blog:
Question: How did you manage to score access to Beckham for the book?--Marshal Zeringue
Answer: The way it first came about was because I did two big stories on Beckham for Sports Illustrated, one in 2003 that basically introduced him to America and then in 2007, a cover story when he arrived in M.L.S. For both of those stories, I got extensive one-on-one access to Beckham and the people around him. We did photo shoots in New York and then Spain. I always had a very good relationship and probably interviewed him more than any other American journalist. I think that he and his people appreciated the open-mindedness of my stories. In 2007 they came to us at S.I. about doing a big feature. It got on the cover and they were thrilled.
The idea for the book was originally to follow Beckham and the Galaxy for that year only, but we pushed the book back a year because of Beckham’s injuries in 2007. I went to Beckham’s people in the summer of 2007 to talk about his potential participation in the book. They told me was that in Beckham’s previous book deals for his own books, which were ghost-written, that he had gotten $1 million. The indication was that I would have to pay him significantly to get exclusive interviews for this book.
I told them that we don’t pay for interviews. I have always been very straight up in how I do things. I think Beckham’s people are used to having a lot of control, something they didn’t have with the S.I. stories. However, he did interviews before and after every game, probably more than he had ever done in Europe. I was asking tons of questions during those periods. Beckham’s voice is all over this book as a result. I just wasn’t going to do things....[read on]