Sign in / Join

The "Beckham Boom:" 16,000 babies, & the power of sport

England's record against Argentina in the World Cup had been a tortured one: Maradonna's "Hand of God" goal in 1986, knocked out on penalty kicks in 1998. But revenge can be sweet, as it apparently was in the 2002 World Cup. From the Daily Telegraph (registration):

[T]here was a demographic blip in February 2003. Actually, so substantial was this statistical aberration, it might be called a surge. Or even a spurt. In February 2003, 16,000 more babies than usual were born, a bubble sizeable enough to have a considerable effect on provision of education and health resources.

...And the reason for the surge? The nation's maternity hospitals were groaning precisely nine months after June 2002 - that heady few weeks when the Cross of St George fluttered from the aerial of every cab (or at least those seeking fares in the area bounded by Offa's Dyke and Hadrian's Wall), when our mornings were sound-tracked by John Motson asking us what we had for breakfast, and when the working day finished no later than 11 o'clock in the morning, when everyone headed to the pub to watch the game.

It was the World Cup in Japan and Korea, that short spell of unbridled optimism, when, against all available evidence, the nation kidded itself that its footballers were about to conquer the planet. Or at least it did until Ronaldinho left David Seaman all over the pitch. But before the buck-toothed Brazilian stepped up to snap us out of our collective self-delusion, there was one game in particular that inspired celebrations of lasting significance: the match on June 2 in Saitama, when England beat Argentina 1-0.

The identity of the scorer that night in Japan has been immortalised in the term being coined by demographers to identify this trend. From now on, this sudden rash of February babies is to be known as "The Beckham Boom".