A League Of Their Own?

The frenzy reached a fevered pitch even before the U.S. Women's Soccer Team took to the field, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes.

Despite what's been called a national phenomenon fueled by America's millions of soccer playing little girls and their families, the fanfare could stop here. That's because unlike men's soccer there is no professional league for these female players, a fact that doesn't sit well with fans who claim they could watch the sport year round.

"Women's soccer has become bigger than men's soccer now," one fan said. "I think we need to ride that momentum."

The players couldn't agree more.

Mia Hamm, of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team, said, "What we're looking to do is hopefully using this as a springboard and the Olympics as well and hopefully get something started."

The year 27-year-old Hamm was born, a law called Title IX went into effect. It forced schools to give equal funding to girl's sports and some say it has set the stage for a professional league.

But could a women's soccer league sustain the momentum started by the World Cup enthusiasm? That depends on whether the fans continue to fill the stadiums and whether they watch the games on TV.

"If you can fill the stadiums you will get the television audience. That's the core of it: putting people in the stadiums and then everything else follows from that," said 1999 Women's World Cup President Marla Messing.

Although the fan support for the World Cup has been overwhelming, the TV ratings haven't.

"We've seen that there has been a nice following for the World Cup team but in terms of it becoming a professional league, I just don't think the backing will be there," said sports marketing expert Doug Shabelman.

For fans wondering where to get their next soccer fix, there's a world tour in the works that might be televised. But even if the women do get a league of their own, it won't happen until after the 2000 Olympics.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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