Stop with the hate for Taylor Swift fans. They’re good for football, too


“My dad purchased season tickets back in 1997, which marked Bill Parcells’ inaugural season as head coach, during a time when tickets were incredibly affordable. The New York Jets had just scraped by with a single win in the prior season under the helm of head coach Rich Kotite, who never found another opportunity in the NFL. Among those diehard Jets fans in our circle, one of my dad’s second cousins, often joked (and sometimes not in jest) about wearing paper bags over their heads while sitting in the stands. He knew quite a few people who were selling tickets.

As I entered middle school, my life was consumed by three sports: tennis in the fall, basketball in the winter, and softball in the spring. However, I hadn’t yet developed a passion for the Jets. My perspective on sports underwent a significant shift when I delved into football.

In the 2001 season, I began attending games with my dad, and together we bore witness to the conclusion of the Vinny Testaverde era. He even bought me a Chad Pennington jersey after he took over, which I proudly wore to school. My primary motivation was to playfully irk my friends who were Philadelphia Eagles fans, but it also stemmed from my genuine love for becoming a part of the passionate Jets fandom. It allowed me to communicate in a language that most 13-year-old girls couldn’t fathom.

There is nothing intrinsically exclusive about sports, although certain fans might have acted as if there were, especially when millions of Taylor Swift fans, known as Swifties, tuned into something they may have never watched before: a Jets-Chiefs game. There’s truly no valid reason for the numerous individuals who perceive football fandom as a privilege one must earn to enjoy watching games. Let’s cease this behavior. Instead, we should embrace those who are new to football, individuals who might have felt too intimidated to enter this world before.”

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I’ve reflected a lot on my journey into football fandom, particularly after hearing NBC’s Mike Tirico kick off the “Sunday Night Football” broadcast by welcoming the Swifties. The topic resurfaced when NFL commentator Ari Meirov, known for his substantial social media presence, poked fun at the NFL for changing its Twitter bio to Taylor Swift lyrics. Sports Illustrated’s media critic, Jimmy Traina, boldly stated that “legitimate NFL fans” despised a broadcast that featured glimpses of Swift and her famous companions enjoying the Jets-Chiefs game. Traina expressed disbelief that NBC opted to cater to more casual sports fans who wanted to see “Taylor Swift jumping around and making faces in the suite.”

Numerous individuals cracked similar jokes, assuming that Swift knows nothing about football. Apparently, the renowned Eagles fan couldn’t possibly comprehend the game’s intricacies. She must be jumping around because someone informed her of a positive development, right? Evidently, these critics are unaware of the depth of Swift’s sports enthusiasm—because, of course, it’s some sort of test. Surely she couldn’t be genuinely enjoying an Isiah Pacheco touchdown because it was an outstanding run that contributed to the Chiefs’ lead. Because, in reality, she was intently watching the game the entire time, genuinely interested and engaged.

Every female sports enthusiast has encountered skepticism regarding her fandom. It’s the dreaded quiz. Every woman reading this can relate. You’re at a sports bar, trying to watch a game, and a guy approaches you, demanding that you prove your sports knowledge on the spot. Name the Jets’ backup center. Identify the co-defensive coordinator for the Patriots. List seven players from the 1948 New York Yankees. It never ends well, because the only way the quiz concludes is when you, as a woman, become so infuriated that you leave the sports bar to watch the game peacefully at home.

The NFL invests hundreds of millions of dollars annually in efforts to reach potential new audiences. The league hosts games in Europe, aiming to attract international fans. It even recently broadcast a game on an animated “Toy Story” set and produced alternate Nickelodeon broadcasts to engage kids. Remarkably, nobody ridicules these endeavors. Swifties who may have never watched an NFL game but are now tuning in to Kansas City Chiefs games to catch a glimpse (or ten) of Swift and her possible boyfriend represent just another potential new audience.

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Every football fan has a unique entry point into the sport. It could be your dad introducing you to pee wee football, or a trip to a tailgate in the nosebleed seats of an old stadium. Maybe that parking lot became your first practice field for throwing a football, and the community in those seats shaped your love for the game. Perhaps it led you to ask your dad if you could watch “Monday Night Football” and the whole day of Sunday games.

You might have even convinced your dad to visit a sports bar to watch multiple games at once, all because you both admired Peyton Manning and didn’t want to miss any Indianapolis Colts games.

Even if the Swifties (Taylor Swift fans) didn’t tune in for football alone, this could be their gateway to our beloved sport. It’s a positive step to make an American sport more accessible, intriguing, and entertaining for those who haven’t explored it yet.

According to Variety, viewership among girls aged 12-17 increased by 53 percent during the first three weeks of Sunday Night Football compared to the season-to-date average. Women aged 18-24 showed a 24 percent increase, while women 35 and older saw a 34 percent rise. What if some of them stick around and discover their passion for football? What if a close game between the Chiefs and Jets ignites their interest? Instead of mocking a talented pop star’s predominantly young and female fan base, let’s focus on the potential benefits.

The NFL has recognized the business and marketing opportunity it’s been given, and for those of us who adore both football and Swift’s music, it’s been an enjoyable few weeks.




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I hope that some of these girls develop a love for the sport I hold dear as well. I wouldn’t wish Jets fandom on them – it’s not the most pleasant experience – but I want them to feel embraced, just as I did by my dad, cousins, and those Long Islanders we bonded with each week. They were the ones who taught me the rules, the significance of a strong running game, and a language I’d carry with me throughout my life.

My dad summed it up perfectly when I called him on Monday night, saying, “This notion of judging who is or isn’t a good fan doesn’t align with the spirit of football. You show up, and that’s what matters. You welcome them in and hope it becomes a lasting connection.”

That’s my wish as well.

(Photo:/ Getty Images)


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