Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and the irritated Chads and Brads

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Taylor Swift at the 2024 Golden Globes. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Taylor Swift, the world-renowned artist, began dating Travis Kelce in late July of 2023. Kelce had attended The Era’s Tour concert, attempting, and failing, to give Taylor a friendship bracelet with his number on it. Fans didn’t know of the relationship between Taylor and Travis until Taylor attended a Kansas City Chiefs game and the pair left holding hands. While many speculated this was a first date, Swift told Time Magazine that “we would never be psychotic enough to hard launch a first date.” This relationship brought opinions and commentary flooding in from the Swifties and football fans. While Swift fans have been widely supportive, football fans rage that Taylor is “ruining football.” Her relationship is certainly high profile, as Travis Kelce is a multi-time Super Bowl winner, and she’s, well, Taylor Swift. To start with the positive, Swifties majorly support this relationship compared to others Taylor has had in the past.

Throughout her teens and twenties, the media put Taylor on blast every time she dated someone. In her chart-topping album 1989 Taylor wrote a song describing the media depictions of her, called “Blank Space”. Blank Space depicts a serial dater and captures the essence of commentary on her dating history. Taylor’s a twenty-something pop star, who dates normally, with the unfortunate angle of constant, intense scrutiny. The backlash got so strong; Swift went into hiding. She wasn’t seen publicly for over a year, and at this time met and began dating actor Joe Alwyn. Their relationship was intensely private and spanned six years before they split up. Swift commented in a Vogue interview that people in her life must be prepared for the level of exposure she experiences. Thus, the Swifties were thrilled when Kelce and Swift were open and proud of their relationship.

Kelce clearly understands fame, having been a football legend long before he began dating Swift. However, nothing quite matches the insanity in Swift’s life. She’s known to have crowds of people outside her Manhattan home, waiting for her to leave, and multiple stalkers. Kelce has taken all this in stride, however. The pair show up for each other constantly, with Kelce attending the Eras Tour in Argentina and Swift attending his football games whenever possible. With the publicity of their relationship, came the usual hate. Football fans are angry at the level of media coverage of Swift during games, blaming her for camera cuts. Some even go so far as to say she’s doing it on purpose.

In reality, Swift’s been perfectly normal. She’s attended games with Kelce’s mother, and the wives of other players. She hasn’t drawn attention to herself, but she hasn’t hidden, either. Kelce certainly made waves when he performed the dance to her song The Archer after scoring a touchdown and doing the classic heart hands. Swift can’t control how the camera crew films the games and isn’t trying to. In her Argentina setlist, she changed the lyrics of Karma, saying, “Karma is the guy on the Chiefs coming straight home to me” as Kelce watched from the audience. Swift felt no threat by Kelce’s fame, or their relationship drawing attention to it in her show, and her fans were ecstatic. So why do so many male football fans feel threatened by Swift’s presence in the audience?

For starters, the NFL media team has taken the Taylor Swift relationship and run with it. It’s widely known that an album that says, “Taylor’s Version” means she owns it now, rather than her previous recording companies, and the NFL briefly made their official Instagram “NFL (Taylor’s Version).” Pre-game videos and commentary have been packed with cringe-inducing Taylor Swift song references, and pre-game videos now include commentators explaining football to women through Taylor Swift lyrics. But here’s the kicker; female football fans are just as annoyed about it as male fans. Many have said that they don’t need the game explained to them by Taylor Swift. Prior to the relationship the NFL claimed that 47% of its fanbase was female, yet now they’re promoting football like women just discovered it because of Taylor Swift. Secondly, male football fans have accused NBC of having “wall-to-wall” coverage of Swift. While one game had as many as 17 cutaways to Swift, the average amount of time she spends on screen is 15-25 seconds of a three-hour game. She’s hardly dominating the sport. This didn’t stop fans from booing her in the last game before the Super Bowl or screaming at her that she’s ruining football as she left. It’s clear the NFL and NBC are to blame, but Swift is getting all the hate. The fragile masculinity of viewers can’t handle accepting that the woman isn’t the problem, the institution is. So sit down, Brads and Chads, and shut up.

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