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Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

OPINION: Unfounded criticism of Taylor Swift enters America’s game

Senior Addie Kilcoin poses at the Eras Tour in June of 2023. Like Kilcoin, a large majority of Swift’s fanbase is female. Photo Credit to Addie Kilcoin.

Chiefs fans have grown accustomed to a familiar pattern this season: tight end Travis Kelce succeeds, making a touchdown or good catch, and the crowd goes wild.

Cut to Taylor Swift.

Since Swift and Kelce’s public romance began in mid September, her frequent appearances during televised games have stirred up controversy between football fans, creating a uniquely unbridled level of animosity.

In an Instagram video from the Chiefs’ most recent game against the Baltimore Ravens, Ravens fans can clearly be heard heckling the star. “You’re ruining football,” screams one fan.

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But Swift appeared for only 44 seconds during the Jan. 28 game, making up a meager 0.39% of the total broadcast time. 

So what are people so mad about?

For senior Morgan Russman, the issue lies in Swift’s screen time, regardless of how much or how little she gets. “I don’t care if she gets one minute or four seconds. It’s too much. I don’t want to see her face. She’s everywhere else in the media and I can’t get away from it,” she said.

This hatred seems to be uniquely reserved for Swift, however. When rapper Eminem attends Detroit Lions games, he is greeted pleasantly by fans, avoiding criticism altogether. Rationally, Swift would receive the same welcome. 

But something is clearly amiss. 

Could her femininity be at fault? Professor Cheryl Cooky studies the intersection between sports, culture and gender, and believes the controversy surrounding Swift has everything to do with gender. 

“Taylor Swift is a scapegoat for all of the male grievances of a shifting gender order in the NFL… This story is, in some ways, not a story about Taylor Swift but a story about fragile masculinity among sports fans,” Cooky said.

Senior Ellie Samec agrees that Swift receives an unwarranted amount of criticism. “If it were any other celebrity watching their boyfriend play, there wouldn’t be an issue. People just have a problem with her,” Samec said.

Beyond Swift herself, some fans take offense to the crowd Swift brings with her. “People who are watching [football] would probably never watch if it wasn’t for her,” said Russman. “They’re not watching for the right reasons.”

Taylor Swift is a scapegoat for all of the male grievances of a shifting gender order in the NFL… This story is, in some ways, not a story about Taylor Swift but a story about fragile masculinity among sports fans.

— Professor Cheryl Cooky

Football is famously male-dominated, with over 70% of NFL fans being men. Swift’s target audience, on the other hand, is overwhelmingly female, as is she. She simply doesn’t fit in with the typical NFL crowd, and neither do her fans.

But the hatred goes much deeper than that.

Swift and Kelce’s relationship has now surpassed the ‘annoyed football fan’ level of hate and snowballed into right-wing conspiracy theory fuel. 

“I wonder who’s going to win the Super Bowl next month. And I wonder if there’s a major presidential endorsement coming from an artificially culturally propped-up couple this fall…” former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy sarcastically tweeted.

Fox News host Jesse Watters has also added fuel to the fire. He suggested on his show that Swift could be “a front for a covert political agenda,” a theory that the Pentagon promptly dismissed

Swift’s potential impact on the 2024 election is undeniable; an endorsement of Biden could boost his popularity immensely, especially with Gen Z voters. But there’s nothing artificial or ‘fixed’ about her influence— she’s just that powerful.

As for Kelce, the far-right hated him long before Swift entered the picture. He was dubbed ‘Mr. Pfizer’ after partnering with the company for a series of commercials promoting Covid-19 and flu vaccines. 

Even if Swift and Kelce do choose to voice their support for Biden, that’s not a sign of a hidden conspiracy between the White House and the NFL. In fact, Swift already endorsed Biden in the 2020 election.

It’s easy to get swept up in grandiose delusions. Blaming a conspiracy is easier than accepting a loss, and an undercover psyop is far more exciting than the current state of American politics.

But at some point, everyone has to re-enter reality.

Swift is simply an entertainer and Kelce is just a football player. There is no grand conspiracy designed to influence American politics and the games she watches him play in are just that: games.

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About the Contributor
Jae Jepsen, Editor-in-Chief
Jae Jepsen is a senior at Pleasant Valley High School and is thrilled to serve as 2023-2024 Editor-in-Chief for the Spartan Shield Online! In past years, she has written for the Boston Terrier at Boston University's Summer Journalism Institute, worked as Copy Editor online, and been print News Editor. Outside of journalism, Jae is the Vice President Out-of-House for the PV Drama Officer Board, and participates in theatre both on and off stage. She has been a representative on Spartan Assembly throughout all of high school. After graduation, Jae hopes to major in journalism and pursue a career in the field.
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