My View: Your New Year's Resolution

Do you like soccer?

There's a simple question with as many answers as hexagons on the ball - if you want a specific response.

In this country, millions may play but don't care much for watching. Many adults who spend enormous spare time watching their children play - ''Oh, I love soccer'' - couldn't care less about Taylor Twellman.

Obviously, millions of Americans are soccer fans. But fans of what soccer?

There are those who may tune in only for big events. How many of the roughly 7 million who turned on the United States-Mexico World Cup 2002 game would drive 10 minutes to a stadium?

Some fans may watch anything that's on TV. Others pick and choose. In America, we have access to almost every major league in the world. Plus, there's MLS, the WUSA, the A-League, college, indoor.

The U.S. national team seems to be the unifier for American fans. Even immigrant aficionados who prefer watching overseas soccer pay attention when the United States puts on an admirable performance. Soccer Moms whom you couldn't drag to see the Galaxy will watch the Women's World Cup in China next October.

The U.S. men's team plays in the Confederations Cup in June and the Gold Cup in July, and we'll get a glimpse of the staying power of World Cup fever. But it's obvious that the national teams have established themselves in the national consciousness.

Yet the future of MLS is not guaranteed, and the health of the other levels of soccer will be small consolation if it fails.

The league has work to do on its part. But for it to improve and expand, it must be able to point to a more impressive fan base.

If you care about soccer, make this your New Year's resolution: support MLS in every possible way. Go to games. Watch on TV. Write your newspapers, radio and TV stations requesting coverage.

When someone tells you they like soccer, tell them to give MLS a look.

by Soccer America Executive Editor Mike Woitalla

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