Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

The NFL’s Objectification of Taylor Swift

Illustration by Helios Santoro

Amidst endless dating rumors, Taylor Swift has been in attendance for three of the Kansas City Chiefs’ last four games to watch tight end Travis Kelce. The NFL has grabbed onto this new relationship just like how Kelce catches his 76+ touchdowns; with both hands. While the NFL has been using Swift and Kelce’s relationship as a way to bring the game into a new fanbase, it has gotten to be a bit too much.

I remember the first Chiefs game Taylor Swift showed up to. It came after a lot of talk about a possible budding romance between her and Travis Kelce. I was shocked because I had believed the entire story leading up to it was just a joke, but lo and behold, she showed up to the Chiefs vs. Bears game on Sept. 24th with Kelce’s mom – referred to by fans as ‘Momma Kelce.’ It was fun to see these successful people coming together, but the spotlight treatment Swift held originally continued on past simply the first game. 

Each game she attended thereafter, the NFL continued to put a large emphasis on her appearance. She has been shown arriving at the games, placed front and center during touchdown celebrations and also shown when the game gets slow. This isn’t entirely abnormal for celebrities, but the amount of times she is cut to is, frankly, absurd. During the Chiefs-Jets game, she even saw more screen time than injured Jets quarterback and future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers.

Travis Kelce has even had critiques of the way which the NFL is handling his relationship, saying that, “they’re overdoing it a little bit … especially for my situation.” He says that when the NFL shows celebrities on TV, it oversells them: “Show them once and get a little clip, but you can’t be overboard with it.”

The relationship between the NFL and Taylor Swift has begun to seem more and more like a use of Taylor’s likeness to increase their audience. The NFL’s kickoff game’s viewings have slowly been dwindling over the course of the last eight years. This season also happens to have the highest average viewership of the last five years. Overall, the NFL seems to be a dying industry. So, with the introduction of Taylor Swift to the equation, the NFL can now reach an entirely new audience along with their previous one, bringing up viewership without changing anything about their game to incentivize increased viewing.

Their intense emphasis on Swift is fundamentally a way to seek improved ratings without changing long-standing issues that people have with the sport. With the increasing research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and the dangers of head trauma, it is becoming clear that the NFL must do something to physically protect their players. Fans have started to get behind the research as well, moving away from supporting the game until the NFL starts to take their players’ safety more seriously. However, the NFL has neglected to make significant changes to the game which would promote player health, instead looking elsewhere for that viewership.

It just so happens that the NFL now starts leaning into the personal lives of one of their top players in order to increase rankings because Taylor Swift is one of the biggest names in the world and is suddenly connected to the sport. Her pop culture presence goes beyond musical icon to public figure, and the NFL has started to base their league on the fact that Taylor Swift is engaging with them. She goes to them, rather than the other way around.

Taylor has become an item for the NFL to use in order to regenerate its popularity that it has slowly been losing in recent years. The NFL has been given a lazy way of increasing viewership and they have eagerly grabbed onto it, riding it to the promised land of high ratings and views. Rather than adapt to the modern times and comment on what fans really care about, they have taken the easy way out and rebranded to a new group of fans who indulge in the love lives of two celebrities. 

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