The 2023-2024 football season has ushered in a new “era” for the pop icon Taylor Swift.
On Sept. 24, 2023, Swift was spotted in the crowd at Arrowhead Stadium cheering on the Kansas City Chiefs after recent speculation of a new relationship with Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce. The couple has dominated headlines ever since, sparking mixed feedback from fans of both Swift and Kelce.
There is no doubt that both of these stars are among the best in their respective fields.
Kelce is in his 11th NFL season and has now made four Super Bowl appearances and is looking for his third Super Bowl victory. He was also named a first team All-Pro four times, along with nine Pro Bowl selections. He’s made more catches in the NFL playoffs than any other player in history.
This year, he has statistically had one of his worst regular seasons since 2015, with only five touchdowns and less than 1,000 receiving yards. But Kelce has been able to turn his game around in the playoffs with Swift in attendance.
In the Chiefs’ first game of the 2023 postseason against the Buffalo Bills, Kelce secured two touchdowns. Last week in the AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens, Kelce grabbed 11 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown.
Swift has also broken some records this year. After re-recording her earlier albums, she has now surpassed Barbra Streisand for the most No. 1 albums for a female artist. The Eras Tour, which showcased a variety of her songs throughout her entire career, became the highest-grossing concert tour of all time with roughly $1 billion in revenue.
Meaghan Grasso, a Miami University junior marketing and entrepreneurship major and “Swiftie,” scored tickets to the show. The singer’s connection to the NFL has given her a new point of connection with people who love the sport.
“I’ve always loved Taylor Swift but have never been that big on football,” Grasso says. “But now sometimes when my Dad has had the game on downstairs, I’ll go watch it with him.”
Both of their successes generated them each large platforms with large fan bases. So when their relationship began, the internet blew up. Media outlets and fans flooded Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter, feeds and within minutes, Kelce and Swift became the newest “it” couple.
This response was not surprising. Pretty soon, Swift was attending most of Kelce’s games for the rest of the season and cameras did not fail to flaunt it. Seeing her celebrate next to Mama Kelce and Brittany Mahomes on live television became a regular sight.
The publicity did not stop there. Social media pages frequently put the new couple in the spotlight. ESPN, NFL and Bleacher Report are just some of many. After a few weeks, the influx of attention resulted in very mixed feedback from the public.
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Complaints have risen from football fans, as well as some Swifties, concerning the amount of content dedicated to their relationship instead of game coverage. According to Sports Illustrated, researchers analyzed the amount of time Swift was shown on television during the AFC championship, which only summed up to a total of 44 seconds.
There could be a variety of reasons why people have felt such disdain concerning this. Swift may have just become an outlet for people to express their negativity. The combination of social media and television attention may be too much for some. Football fans could also be sick of the Chiefs’ successes over recent years and how now there is such a large influx of “bandwagon fans” to fuel their fanbase even more.
Miami junior supply chain and operations management major Sam Thaler sees both sides of this ongoing battle.
“It’s expanding the NFL’s reach into demographics it usually wouldn’t reach, but I can understand fans being annoyed,” Thaler says. “Media rights are pricing people out of watching their favorite teams with exclusive streaming and fans generally want to watch their teams play without the attention on Taylor or any underlying narratives.”
People who feel more strongly about the situation have taken to the internet to voice their opposition toward the Chiefs. Haters put their faith in Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson last week, with hopes that he would knock the Chiefs out of the playoffs, but Jackson and the Ravens fell short. Now, many voice their distaste in the final Super Bowl XLVIII matchup between the Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers.
Despite the backlash, the publicity helped develop a new mutualistic relationship between Swift and the NFL. Apex Marketing Group reported to Front Office Sports that her presence has helped generate the NFL and the Chiefs about $331.5 million in revenue.
The NFL has historically eclipsed the other professional sports in revenue in the United States. With the help of Swift, who knows what new numbers the organization will reach.
Anaka Bretzke, Miami senior journalism and fashion major and Missouri native, is a long time Swiftie and Chiefs fan. She enjoys the publicity and does not view it as problematic.
“I’ve liked all the attention. I know some don’t, but they are just doing regular relationship stuff,” Bretzke says. “If anything, the attention has benefitted the NFL with her there.”
We will most likely see the couple next at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday, Feb. 11, for the Super Bowl.
Who knows what will happen next, but Travis Kelce may conclude his year with two rings on his finger.