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By MariaJose Fernandez

It all started with a friendship bracelet and a dream. Since last fall, the tender romance between two celebrities from star cross worlds of sports and entertain­ment has captured the hearts of fans and critics.

Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs tight end, shared his ro­mantic interest in superstar Tay­lor Swift with a friendship brace­let made of his phone number he wanted to gift her at her concert last July. After falling short, Kelce publicly revealed this interest in the singer-songwriter on his “New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce” podcast. And according to Kelce, Swift’s friends and family played “cupid” and she reached out to him. The rest is history.

Swift, known for her albums about love, heartbreak, and feminist sto­rytelling, and Kelce, for being one of the best tight ends in the NFL and now 3-time Super Bowl win­ner with the Chiefs, caused a me­dia frenzy about whether it is true love or simply a PR move.

They are still going strong and seem to be having a good time with each other despite specula­tion. But during the NFL playoffs until the Chiefs won the 58th Su­per Bowl against the San Fran­cisco 49ers in Las Vegas Feb. 11, many football fans accused her of becoming a terrible distraction for their favorite tight end.

The Taylor Swift Effect

The singer-songwriter first ap­peared at an NFL game last Sep­tember. And Swift continued to attend Chiefs games for the rest of the season, bonding with his fam­ily, including Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’s wife, Brittany Mahomes.

She was TIME 2023 Person of the Year after her record-break­ing year on tour and re-record­ed albums. Swift said she had no awareness of criticism when she’s there.

“I don’t know how they know what suite I’m in. There’s a cam­era, like, a half-mile away, and you don’t know where it is, and you have no idea when the camera is putting you in the broadcast, so I don’t know if I’m being shown 17 times or once,” she said. “I’m just there to support Travis.”

While she was merely living her life on The Eras Tour and watch­ing some football, there was an evident shift for fans.

“She’s had a big impact. She’s brought a whole new viewership into the industry which has been a positive for the league,” said Ross Leach, a graduate student major­ing in sports psychology, acknowl­edging the positive contribution it caused.

Reports say her arrival to the NFL and presence at games to support her current boyfriend brought millions of new viewers to the sport. But some loyal fans of the NFL and the Chiefs say the essence of the sport even lost its grace thanks to the media trying to make it a part of game dynam­ics.

Like Leach, they were annoyed by the media’s commotion.

“But that’s what the NFL is hap­piest about. More money for them,” he said. “They don’t need to be showing her sitting next to Kelce's mom 10+ times every game. When it gets to that point it gets away from trying to gain new viewership and becomes more of a money grab.”

Despite complaints about Swift being shown “too much” on the screen, the NFL and the me­dia embraced their relationship. From doing promos, quoting her lyrics live, to spiking their tickets and merchandise sales, the NFL undeniably benefited from Swift’s reoccurring attendance.

“Beyond the music, Taylor is a role model for girls and women like me for her love of family, strength, humility, intelligence, and record-breaking status,” said Laura Blanco, a senior majoring in communications and digital media and a Swiftie sports lover.

According to MarketWatch data, Swift’s presence at football games boosted the NFL’s brand value by $122 million. Less than a week after her first appearance, Kelce gained over 300,000 followers on Instagram and had a 400 percent increase in jersey sales, becoming one of the top five selling jerseys in the NFL, according to CBS Sports.

“Taylor has an unbelievable fan­base that follows her and supports her throughout her life, and it’s been fun to kind of gather the Swifties in the Chiefs kingdom. It’s been cool to just experience all of that,” said Kelce.

NFL audiences grew by millions with female viewership up by 37 percent and teen-girl viewing up by 53 percent.

“As a Swiftie and avid sports fan, seeing Taylor at Travis’s games this past season was amazing! It was like worlds colliding for me because I love her music and love football. More and more people can now see the greatness of Tay­lor’s music and Travis’s elite abil­ity. I love how they both support each other in their success,” said Blanco. “It gave Swifties and their football-fan friends and families the opportunity to bond.”

She still has the fame, money, a happy life and her guy. “Karma is the guy in the Chiefs, coming straight home to me,” as she sang during her world tour after they became official.

Kelce, now offseason, will va­cation and spend time with his girlfriend. Swift releases her 11th studio album titled, “The Torture Poets Departments,” on April 19 during this tour break. Then she takes Paris on May 9.


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