Taylor Swift is responsible for the NFL’s boom right now. Not every fan is pleased.
Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and pop star Taylor Swift have something in common. Both are extremely influential and successful women involved in relationships with football players in the NFL. And both have recently had bizarre experiences on the U.S. football scene, despite — or maybe because of — their fame. The better alternative definitely would have been to do some self-reflection and show both of them some respect.
Start with Biles, who has, after all, won four Olympic gold medals since 2016. She was No. 16 on the Forbes list of highest-paid athletes last year. So, one could assume that everyone knows her name, at least in the United States, even outside of gymnastics. Nope. Her husband, Jonathan Owens, a professional football player with the Green Bay Packers, admitted in a recent podcast that at first he didn’t know the woman he was talking to. They met in 2020 through an online dating app and, after a few days, agreed to a first meeting. He said that he had never before had time to get interested in gymnastics — and said self-assuredly in the podcast, that six months after their wedding, he was “the catch” in the relationship. Biles later felt compelled to publicly defend her husband on social media following weeks of criticism for his remarks.
Now, Swift has replaced Biles. Last September, the 12-time Grammy winner and Travis Kelce, a tight end with the Kansas City Chiefs, made their relationship public a few weeks after it began. The commotion was immense. People are following every step of the new celebrity couple and their relationship graces the sports pages and is covered by the tabloids.
And what are the fans who object to this doing? They are proudly taking selfies as they burn photos of the pop star in stadium parking lots, complaining on the internet when Swift appears on the TV screen for a few seconds, and feeling like their NFL world is under threat. The worry among Chiefs fans that Swift would distract their player with her presence proved to be unfounded. The team from Kansas is once again headed to the Super Bowl. Along the way, it seems that very few asked themselves whether Kelce would distract his girlfriend during her three-hour concerts before as many as 70,000 people.
The NFL, at least, proved to be less narrow-minded. The second time Swift was in the stadium in late 2023, 27 million people watched the game on TV, setting a new viewer record since the last Super Bowl. But the notable feature was that viewership among 12 to 17-year-old girls rose by 53%, and among women over 35, viewership increased by 34%. Swift is a jackpot for the NFL because she has drawn a new audience to football.
People will continue to step on the toes of successful women, especially when they are perceived as threatening someone else’s territory. Neither Biles nor Swift needs to prove their talent to anyone. And anyone who finds the shots of the pop queen during NFL games taking too long can spend the time Googling who this Owens guy is.