The Point

The Point

The Point

Taylor Swift v.s. NFL Fans

A Melodic Interception of Sports Culture

In 2010, Taylor Swift penned lyrics that eerily foreshadowed the unlikely intersection of her world-famous music career with the realm of American football. Fast forward 14 years, and Swift has become an unexpected fixture in the NFL landscape, sparking both adoration and criticism. As the media and fans alike dissect her involvement in football events, the once-prophetic lyrics of “Mean” have taken on new significance.

If you’ve been following, the NFL, you’ve undoubtedly encountered the newfound pairing of Taylor Swift and America’s favorite sport. This  began in September 2023, when Swift attended her first Kansas City Chiefs game, when the Chiefs defeated the Chicago Bears. This alone had a significant impact, with her boyfriend Travis Kelce’s jersey sales increasing 400% almost overnight following her appearance. 

Now she has attended 13 games, and people have had a lot to say. While Swift is only shown on screen 0.46% of the time during football broadcasts, some still believe she is being shown “too much.” Despite fans claiming she has no control over how much she is shown and that she is doing nothing wrong by supporting her boyfriend.

“The fact is that Taylor is dating Travis, and she is supporting him as one does. With that, she has brought a big audience to Chiefs games. So many girls now have something to bond over with their dads, brothers, etc. I think that is a great thing despite what all the haters say. She can’t control how many times she is on the screen and isn’t aware, but I personally don’t think that there is any issue with her being out on screen for less than 1% of every game.” said junior Kathryn Montgomery.

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However, her impact transcends mere screen time, as evidenced by the 2024 Super Bowl. Despite only appearing on the screen for 56 seconds of the 3-hour game, the NFL received $9.6 million in free publicity, or earned media, on Super Bowl Sunday thanks to “the Taylor Swift effect,” according to an exclusive analysis from AdVenture Media, a performance media agency. Throughout the day, people viewed items mentioning the pop star and the NFL, Travis Kelce, the Chiefs or the Super Bowl. AdVenture Media says those combined mentions amounted to more than 488 million views. Not only that, but this Super Bowl was the most watched telecast since the moon landing. 

Swift’s entry into the football world has been extremely profitable, effectively generating an additional $331.5 million in brand value for the Chiefs and NFL. She has also helped to build a large network of other brands and sponsors who want to be associated with Swift to benefit from her influence, which increases the NFL’s viewership and gives it access to targeted audiences. This is what many haters fail to see.

While it seems that she is only bringing positive things and benefits to the NFL and football, many people are strongly opposed to Swift attending the games, and those who are are vocal about it. On TikTok, people have been publicly expressing their hatred by smashing Taylor Swift vinyls on the ground, and some NFL fans have booed Swift when she appears at Chiefs games.

The vitriol directed towards Taylor Swift within the football community can be attributed to a variety of factors, two of the most prominent being dehumanization and her unparalleled level of fame.

Dehumanization is a common phenomenon in the world of celebrities, where athletes and performers are often reduced to mere entertainment commodities. Critics argue that Swift’s introduction into the football realm has only intensified this dehumanization, turning her into a spectacle rather than a respected artist. The scrutiny she faces for every move she makes on the football stage has led to an environment where, as her lyrics predicted, people are “talking over a football game, with that same big, loud opinion, but nobody’s listening.”

“For many people, seeing TV coverage of Taylor Swift at NFL games does make them enjoy football less,” psychology professor Steven Fein said in an online release. “Sexism, political ideology and belief in conspiracies are among the factors that may fuel the anti-Swift feelings.”

Interestingly, Swift’s song “Mean” provides a poignant parallel to her current situation in the NFL. The song, which addresses bullying and standing up to critics, mirrors Swift’s resilience in the face of football fandom’s backlash. Throughout her career, she has consistently faced adversity, proving time and again that she is not afraid to stand up to those who seek to bring her down.

“I’m just there to support Travis. I have no awareness of if I’m being shown too much and pissing off a few dads, Brads, and Chads,” said Swift in her TIME Person of the Year interview. 

About the Contributor
Hailey Kim, Social Media/Reporter