In New York City you didn't need to be sitting in front of a TV or a computer to follow the U.S. win over Ghana this week. If you had walked far enough Monday night you could have caught the whole contest on the sidewalk, just by occasionally swiveling your head and cocking your ear. The match was everywhere—blaring from bars and restaurants, spilling out into the streets, accompanied by shouts of joy and anguish. When it ended, revelers celebrated under the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO and blocked traffic outside of Jack Dempsey's on 33rd St. Fans wearing U.S. jerseys filled midtown. What felt like a secret society a week ago had gone mainstream.
This passion was hardly confined to the East Coast. In Chicago, thousands joined in Grant Park to watch the match together on a giant screen. Partisans gathered outside in Skyline Park in Denver and the Power & Light District in Kansas City. This interest boosted TV ratings. The U.S. match set a viewership record and overall TV ratings are up 16 percent over the last World Cup.
Newspapers across the country followed suit. An examination of the 577 U.S. newspaper front pages at the Newseum website from the day following the match with Ghana revealed the following:
More than half of all newspapers in America—52 percent—ran a picture of the match on their front page.
Fifty-eight percent mentioned the match on A1.
Ten percent featured stories about the match out front.
More than 70 percent of the papers in 16 different states (plus D.C.) featured the match on their front pages. Some are obvious—Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, and Virginia—others less so, like Nebraska, Louisiana, Utah, and Alabama. (The remaining states, in what we will call the soccer heartland, were Washington, Texas, Maine, Florida, Delaware, California, Arizona, Alabama, and Washington, D.C.)
The only states whose newspapers gave the game no front-page treatment: Vermont, North Dakota, Hawaii, and Nevada.