The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Op-ed: ‘You Need To Calm Down’: A look at Taylor Swift and the NFL

Katie Mulcahy

Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or just want an excuse to eat some wings, Americans everywhere watch the Super Bowl. The 2024 game, which took place Feb. 11 at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, saw the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers and eventually claim a 25-22 victory in overtime. 

But the final score wasn’t the only thing on the public’s mind that night. This year, the players shared the spotlight with global pop star Taylor Swift. 

Swift started publically dating Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce in September 2023, and since then, she has made an appearance at 13 NFL games, including the Super Bowl. Swift and Kelce’s romance has garnered mass media attention, as Swift’s relationships always do. Reactions have come from outraged football fans to obsessed Swifties to Republicans who believe the couple is part of an elaborate Democratic plot to help President Joe Biden win the election in November.

A lot of NFL viewers, especially male fans, are less than happy about Swift’s appearances at her boyfriend’s games. Many say she diverts attention away from the field, and shots of her on the jumbotron have been met with boos from the crowd

Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising. In a world where women have been slowly gaining power in fields previously male-dominated, football has remained an almost exclusively male space. While there is a female equivalent of the NFL — the Women’s Football Alliance, or WFA — there is no female equivalent of the Super Bowl, and last year, the WFA championship game received less than 1% of the viewers that the Super Bowl did. 

Other sports are making strides toward gender equality, and women’s games are becoming more popular, evidenced by the fact that 1.12 billion and 889,000 people watched the last women’s World Cup and WNBA finals, respectively. 

It could be argued that the contact nature of football makes it physically harder for women to participate, explaining the deficit of female players. But this shouldn’t stand in the way of women’s football. In ice hockey, a sport famous for its contact nature, a new women’s league — the Professional Women’s Hockey League, or PWHL, is currently in its inaugural season. The league’s opening game between New York and Toronto averaged over 800,000 viewers. It’s important to note that while body checking has previously been illegal in women’s hockey, the PWHL allows checking as long as it’s done with the clear intention of gaining possession of the puck. This adjustment closer aligns the contact rules to those of the men’s game and demonstrates that women are perfectly capable of playing contact sports. Despite this, football still appears to be holding onto the gendered norm that sports are played by men, for men.

However, since 2020, the NFL has seen a 141% increase in women working in football operations and coaching. Forty-six percent of NFL fans are now women, and in high schools, 24% more girls are playing football and flag football compared to previous years. Now, with Swift’s recent involvement, even more women are entering the conversation. To add insult to injury, they’re doing so in a way that most men don’t approve of: through the lens of Taylor Swift. 

The notion that Swift is diverting attention is unfounded. Aside from the fact that she’s barely on screen — 54 seconds during the 2024 Super Bowl broadcast — football has never just been about the game itself. In my admittedly limited experience, the day after the Super Bowl, more people are talking about their favorite commercial than the play that led to the winning touchdown. Money has, and always will be, at the heart of the NFL. 

Analysts estimate that Swift has generated over $300 million for the league since she started dating Kelce, leading people to question if their relationship is real or just a profit-generating scheme. This isn’t the only conspiracy theory floating around. A recent poll by Monmouth University found that almost one in five Americans believe Swift is part of a covert government ploy to win Biden’s reelection in November, with some going as far as to say that the Democratic Party rigged the Super Bowl toward a Chief’s victory. Of those who believe this theory, 83% said they would vote for Trump in the fall. 

While their theory is a considerable reach, Swift does have a history of ties to the Democratic Party. In 2018, she broke her long-held political silence and endorsed Democratic politicians Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper in the Tennessee midterm elections, referring to their Republican opponent Marsha Blackburn as ‘Trump in a wig’. This endorsement was a major talking point in the 2020 ‘Miss Americana’ documentary. Then, in 2020, she endorsed Biden and Kamala Harris’ campaign, and a poll by Whitman Insight Strategies found Swift to be the second most influential celebrity in Biden’s win, after LeBron James. Last month, the New York Times reported that Swift would be the Democrats’ “biggest and most influential endorsement target.” 

Currently, Swift has not endorsed Biden’s 2024 presidential campaign, despite taking to Instagram last week to encourage fans to vote on Super Tuesday. President Biden recently joked on Late Night With Seth Meyers that any plot between Swift and himself is “classified.” 

It is unsurprising that Republicans would have a bone to pick with Swift. Aside from her ties to the opposition, she’s morphed from a pretty teenage girl — rich, but constantly under the thumb of her label, Big Machine Records — into a 30-something, powerful business person with seemingly no plans to settle down and get married anytime soon. The older Swift gets, the more she takes control of her own work, and the more she uses her platform to advocate for liberal ideals. With this, she becomes less appealing to Republicans. 

Republicans may be tired of the pop star, but the current political agenda against Swift reduces her to just a pawn in Biden’s game. It also implies that Swifites, a predominantly female fan base, would cast their vote for the Democrats this fall just because their favorite singer told them to instead of coming to the decision themselves. 

With the 2023 NFL season over, the media circus surrounding Swift appears to be returning to normal. To me, this has all served as a reminder of the fact that Swift still irritates many men, especially when her presence and content are forced upon them. 

Whether you view her as your idol, an unwelcome guest at a Chiefs game or Biden’s puppet, Swift’s empire and her relationship with Kelce are seemingly here to stay, and it seems that NFL fans are going to have to accept her presence on the sideline. 


Lily Cooper is a second-year bioengineering and biochemistry combined major. She can be reached at [email protected].

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