I Don’t Need Taylor Swift to Help Me Understand Football

Have you heard? Taylor Swift has been to a couple NFL games lately and she’s been spending some time with Kansas City Chiefs tight end, Travis Kelce. Even if you don’t care, you definitely heard.

I happen to care very much about two of those things: football and Taylor Swift. Well, and tangentially Travis Kelce, I suppose, because he doesn’t happen to be the best in the league at his position on the defending Super Bowl champion team, and once helped my fantasy team win more than a few games. He’s not really my type, but that’s not wherein my beef lies. (Let’s save those thoughts for our group chats, shall we?)

This isn’t about these two famous people who are “still just getting to know each other” in “more of a hanging out situation than dating,” according to a source in People. No, my rage is focused on the way people are talking about it and marketing it—especially those acting like women just discovered sports after Taylor Swift attended a football game.

Now, did a bunch of people (of varying genders and ages) tune into a game they otherwise would not have because of Taylor? They sure did. There was anecdotal evidence everywhere on social media and the ratings for Sunday night’s game averaged 27 million, with a 53% surge in viewership among teenage girls, per CNN. I’m not here to gatekeep football or Taylor Swift. I’m also not going to let people act like women of all ages didn’t previously enjoy the sport. Taylor herself has spoken more than once about growing up watching Eagles games with her dad—and even has a lyric in the song “Gold Rush” on “Evermore” that references “my Eagles T-shirt hanging from the door.” She confirmed at one of her Philly shows during the Eras tour that she did indeed mean the Philadelphia football team, and not the band—though she likes them, too.

In fact, being a longtime superfan of either or both Taylor and the NFL has sometimes been fraught. I’m in my 40s and have been down with Taylor since she burst onto the scene with her first album, Taylor Swift, aka “Debut” to Swifties. It was most certainly not always cool to be a grown woman loving all things Taylor. Ask younger fans who “grew up” with her music and they’ll tell you it wasn’t always looked highly upon for them either.

The NFL capitalized on the mania on social media before removing mentions of Swift from its bios.

As for football, I’ve been watching it since I can remember and my family has had season tickets to the Indianapolis Colts games since they moved to town in 1984. The NFL has not had the best track record when it comes to addressing issues of domestic violence and sexist work environments, just to name a couple of its many issues, and that has given me pause as a female fan. And made me more than willing to understand when other friends tapped out on the sport or those who might give me a side eye about still watching. That’s totally fair.

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