Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Taylor Swift changed my relationship with sports

Anna Hoffman
Illustration Anna Hoffman

Opinion editors are not responsible for agreeing or disagreeing with their writers but rather elevate each individual’s specific voice.

My hatred of sports can be traced back to a mortifying second-grade experience. It was a Saturday—game day for my youth soccer league—and I was dribbling the ball towards the goal completely unopposed. Strange, I thought, but they probably were so intimidated by my skillful dribbling that no one dared to stop me. I could hear my teammates and coaches yelling at me, certainly just offering words of encouragement. Didn’t they know they were distracting me? 

Admittedly, I was not the most athletic player in the league, but I was sure that scoring this goal would garner admiration and awe from my opponents and teammates alike, something I rarely received at games and practices (my favorite Taylor Swift song is “this is me trying.” Can you tell?). Needless to say, when I scored my first and last goal—for the other team—I renounced my interest in all things sports. 

Eleven years later, Taylor Swift appeared at a football game. 

My total disinterest in sports was completely upended when Swift appeared in Travis Kelce’s suite at Arrowhead Stadium on Sep. 24, attending the Kansas City Chiefs game against the Chicago Bears after reports circulated that Swift and Kelce were “hanging out.” She wore a Chiefs windbreaker and red New Balance 550 sneakers. She snacked on chicken nuggets with ketchup and “seemingly ranch” while sipping on a vodka cranberry. She was seen talking with Donna Kelce, Travis’s Mother. She gave chest bumps and high fives. She and Kelce made their getaway into the setting sun of Kansas City not in a private plane or bulletproof car, but in his convertible with the top down and no security detail to be seen.

At first, my reasoning behind tuning into these football games revolved around Swift herself. I did not care about the game or her rumored “lover.” I wanted to know what she wore, what she ate, what she drank, who she interacted with, and I eagerly anticipated a reminder of why I love her so much—something fans get every time we tune in! 

On Sunday, Jan. 21, Swift was booed as she entered the Buffalo Bills’ stadium, and her brilliant response was to simply blow a kiss. 

In her “Time” person of the year article, Swift playfully said: “Football is awesome, it turns out. I’ve been missing out my whole life”—and I must agree. I first began watching the Chiefs just to catch a glimpse of my favorite singer-songwriter, but I quickly became entertained by the game itself. 

Much like Swift, I love a boisterous crowd. Seeing thousands of passionate people truly invested in the “performance” they are sharing is a heartwarming experience. I have found that football games are similar in magnitude and scale to “The Eras Tour,” and it is interesting to see the energy targeted at something other than Swift. 

Just as she attends every Chiefs game, I watch every Chiefs game. And when Swift cheers, screams, and pounds on the glass of her suite, I follow suit. When she peeks into the crowd to make sense of what’s going on, I am texting my cousins and asking, “Are we winning?” 

While I recently began watching football to see Swift, it is arguably reductive and sexist to suggest that this is the case for every “Swiftie.” However, the NFL has undoubtedly seen an increase in viewership among women and girls. 

According to Business Insider, The Chiefs versus Jets game on Sep. 31 (Swift’s second appearance at a Chiefs game) saw a 53 percent increase in female viewers from ages 12 to 17, and a 24 percent increase in female viewers from ages 18 to 24. Furthermore, the game saw the largest number of viewers for a Sunday Television show since the 2023 Super Bowl.

Despite this increased popularity of the NFL, many football fans are angry with Swift’s presence at the Chiefs games. Since her first appearance in September, television networks have made a habit of panning to Swift during NFL games. Many fans are annoyed with the attention she receives; however, Swift actually receives very little overall airtime. 

According to the data analyst Jason Pauley, Swift was shown on the air seven times for a total of 44 seconds at the Bills v. Chiefs game on January 21. This accounted for just 0.39 percent of the three-hour game, and she still asked the camera to “go away please!” 

I can understand non-Swiftie football fans’ frustration in regards to increased ticket prices and, in some cases, the overexposure of Taylor Swift, but their anger is misdirected. Whether you are a fan of Taylor Swift or not, she is a monolith in the music industry and our culture. 

“The Eras Tour” is the highest-grossing music tour in history, making a staggering $1 billion in revenue. “The Eras Tour” film is the highest-grossing concert/documentary film of all time, amassing over $260 million in revenue. On Sunday, Feb. 4, Swift’s tenth album, “Midnights,” won Album of the Year at the Grammys, making her the first person to win this award four times. The NFL, television networks, and the Chiefs understand that where Taylor Swift goes, money follows—and they are capitalizing on the Taylor Swift phenomenon. 

Despite the arguably misogynistic accusations from mostly male football enthusiasts, Taylor Swift and “Swifties” are not ruining football. Football fans should not be ruthlessly criticizing Taylor Swift for attending football games and supporting her boyfriend, or shaming “Swifties” (who are largely young women and girls) for having a greater interest in football because of Taylor Swift. Instead, football fans should celebrate the avenue Taylor Swift has provided for many young women and girls to start watching football and enjoying sports. 

A Cetaphil ad released ahead of the 2024 Super Bowl encapsulates the newfound interest girls and young women have in football, and the relationships they have fostered because of it. The skincare brands ad shows a fathers attempts to bond with his daughter finally succeed when the daughter takes an interest in football after Taylor Swift’s appearance at the Chiefs games. The daughter receives a 13 jersey which is Swift’s lucky number, and the dad is shown wearing friendship bracelets, a new tradition among Swifites referencing a lyric in “You’re On Your Own Kid.” 

Super Bowl LVIII viewership of girls ages 12-17 was up by 11% and women ages 18-24 up by 24% from last year. This demographic accounted for almost 2 million additional viewers of this year’s Super Bowl. 

Honestly, I still don’t know a lot about football. I don’t know if I would continue to watch every Chiefs game if Swift and Kelce broke up. I will always be more excited to see Taylor Swift’s reaction to a touchdown than the actual touchdown itself. This may anger football fans, but I have (along with many other young women) somehow managed to wedge my way into football: a male-dominated space that I never felt I belonged in previously.


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