CINCINNATI - The lights were out, the air conditioning down, the freezers dead. No electricity all along the east-side of Cincinnati.
Over in East Hyde Park, inside Hap’s Irish Pub, however, a faint glow. Cell phones.
It was the first Monday of the World Cup, and the Hap’s regulars weren’t going to let a little power outage come between them and their favorite sport.
“We had seven people per phone standing around watching the (Germany-Portugal) match,” said Nathan Thomas, a manager at Hap’s and the son of the owner, Daniel Thomas.
Such is the dedication around Cincinnati this summer surrounding the World Cup.
Old fans are coming back. New fans are signing up. Casual followers are turning obsessive. Obsessives are losing their soccer-loving minds.
“I think it’s definitely been on the rise for possibly even 10 years but definitely the last 5 years,” Thomas said. “It’s good to see everyone getting on the same page as the rest of the world.”
The United States match against Portugal, June 22, drew Nielsen ratings that surpassed those of the World Series and the NBA Finals.
Bar patios around town are overflowing. Crowds at Fountain Square erupt with emotion every time the United States team even approaches a shot on goal.
“It’s kind of like the Olympics for soccer,” said Sean Buffington, who grew up playing soccer in Oakley. “To soccer fans I think this is more important than an Olympic title.”
But as the last of the “U-S-A! U-S-A!” chants fade next month with the end of the World Cup tournament, one can imagine the Carol King classic, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” playing in the background.
Will all the fans, so passionate about soccer during this World Cup, still be watching the sport this fall?
Become a WCPO Insider to read more about the chances soccer keeps its popularity after the World Cup.