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Swifties, Chiefs fans torn over Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce relationship

Swifties, Chiefs fans torn over Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce relationship
Samanvika Senthil Kumar

Junior Disha Manayilakath sits in front of her TV with her dad as she watches the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Denver Broncos. She turns her head to grab a handful of chips, when all of a sudden, she hears yelling. Thinking it’s a touchdown, she whips her head around, only to see the camera pointing at Taylor Swift — who is waving to the crowd below.

The relationship between global pop sensation Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has increased NFL ratings and the Chiefs’s popularity. But many football fans are annoyed with the spotlight on Swift during football games. While football is a staple of American culture, its ratings have steadily declined over the past decade until the announcement of Swift and Kelce’s relationship. According to Hollywood entertainment magazine Deadline, the Chiefs have experienced a 15% increase in female viewership. And Kelce’s jersey sales have skyrocketed 400%, according to Bleacher Report. Freshman Amy Lei said Swift has been her role model since she first heard Swift’s music in second grade.

“I began listening to her music every time we were in the car after her name randomly popped up one time, and it became a full-blown obsession with me listening to her every day,” Lei said.

Lei said the only reason football is gaining viewership is because of Swifties’ loyalty for Swift. Due to Swift’s substantial fanbase, the NFL began advertising the couple through Instagram and sports media, such as ESPN and NBC Sports. The NFL changed their bio to “Chiefs are 2-0 as swifties,” temporarily and changed their profile name to “NFL (Taylor’s Version)” on X and posted Taylor Swift reels and photos with her reactions during the game.  Manayilakath speculates the NFL is trying to garner a younger audience by using Swift’s popularity.

“Having the biggest pop star in the world and bringing her to the NFL means a bigger audience and greater viewership especially when many Americans think football is men just tackling each other for a ball for no reason,” Manayilakath said.

But Manayilakath said there is a rift between Swift and Kelce fans that could worsen as the narrative that Kelce’s performance is based on Swift’s attendance.

Paly history teacher Stephen Foug said the commercialization of Swift during NFL games is irritating, and that he doesn’t want the NFL to turn into a platform for Swift.

“I don’t want to see all the Taylor Swift coverage on Sunday Night Football,” Foug said. “It is driving me insane because it (is) all (broadcasters) talk about, and I have been deliberately avoiding it. It would be like, ‘First Down Chiefs. Taylor Swift from the press box. Second Down Chiefs. Taylor Swift from the press box.’ Or, ‘Taylor Swift is with someone,’ then, ‘Taylor Swift is with Jason Kelce’s mom.’”

Junior Divya Gandhi said football fans should be worried about Kelce’s celebrity status as she said he will soon be a shadow compared to his more popular partner.

“A lot of people will start to overlook Travis Kelce as a football player and think of him as Taylor’s boyfriend or associate him with her instead as more people are familiar with Taylor Swift than Travis Kelce,” Gandhi said.

Manayilakath, though, said she has a different take.

“Yes, there will always be someone famous in the stands but it doesn’t mean you constantly post about them for days, you maybe make one post or story,” Manayilakath said.

Foug said the NFL will continue advertising Kelce and Swift.

“The NFL loves it, and will just continue to show them as it gets people who are marginalized football fans and brings them to football,” Foug said. “If you can merge Taylor Swift with the NFL, you have the most commercialized entertaining product in the country.”

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