Look, I freely admit I am hardly in the demographic wheelhouse to be a Swiftie. I don’t have children who are, either, and, honestly, if I passed Taylor Swift in a hallway, I wouldn’t know who she was save for what I am certain would be paparazzi and swooning fans that would accompany her every move.
Certainly, that’s an otherwise unwatchable late Sunday afternoon football game in Kansas City played out on a FOX network desperately looking for a lead-in to its premiere of KRAPOPOLIS. Which, for my money, would be as apt to describe a culture so obsessed with how the rich and famous date than how Dan Harmon envisioned ancient Greece.
So when I saw the barrage of stories and speculation that followed the sighting of arguably the world’s most bankable singing talent of the moment–if the prices for the ERAS tour tickets this past summer and the box office scale that the film of it, sold directly to AMC Theatres independent of a studio, were able to achieve are any indication–at a mismatch of a football game in the middle of America, just HAPPENING to be comfortably enschonched in a stadium box with the mother of the Kansas City Chiefs’ star tight end Travis Kelce, rooting like any WAG when her guy scored a touchdown–well, let’s just say my reaction was somewhat more muted than those reported by HUFFPOST’s Jazmin Tolliver:
Swift’s appearance at the game prompted a wave of memes and tweets on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. The rumors ignited further still when Kelce was spotted leaving the game with the “Cruel Summer” singer after the Chiefs took home the win, 41-10. She was even seen unleashing one hell of a cheer after Kelce scored a touchdown in the third quarter.
Travis Kelce has a pretty decent resume of his own, He is a key member of the current Super Bowl champions. His turn as a guest host earlier this year on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE was fairly well received, with comparisons to Peyton Manning’s turns among the most frequent observations. Ask anyone who likes chicken parm or Papa John’s pizza what that can turn into. He even has a very successful podcast along with his older brother Jason, a member of the NFC-leading Philadelphia Eagles and who he faced off against in the last Super Bowl.
Hey, if I were a thirty-something girl with an apparent history of disappointing boyfriends, I’d be interested in getting his digits. And more power to him that he can actually make a dent in someone like her after merely musing on said podcast that he’d like to get Swift’s attention by making her a gift no Swiftie could refuse — one of the singer’s legendary friendship bracelets — with his phone number cutely etched on it, as Tolliver reported.
I just honestly don’t know why WE care.
It’s not like he’s the first pro athlete who can get a hot talented woman to notice him. Joe DiMaggio got Marilyn Monroe, and, in hindsight, treated her better than did any Kennedy. I grew up on an otherwise mediocre local sportscaster named Kyle Rote, a role player with the New York Giants, who was married to a former Miss America. The Kardashians and Jenner girls have married and/or slept with enough NBA players to have their own personal All-Star game. Oh, and let’s not forget the supposed example momma Kris set with her alleged dalliances.
Heck, I briefly lived with someone who dated an NBA star for several years, and who gave me one of the sweetest and most thoughtful birthday gifts I’ve ever received. Supposedly, she was one of many, and he’s now exceptionally happily married to someone who appears to be his soulmate. My ex-roomie and he still made a striking couple, and you could hardly fault either of them for their respective hormones kicking in back in the day.
And I know plenty of fine people who made careers out of playing on the obsessions of common people with celebrity gossip. There wouldn’t have been an E! network that would have survived this long were this not true.
But I am honestly more aligned with the viewpoints of veteran ARIZONA REPUBLIC columnist Bill Goodykuntz, which was shared by USA TODAY this morning:
All things Taylor Swift, to the point that her going out for a night on the town with Sophie Turner − whose split with Swift’s ex-boyfriend Joe Jonas got its own invasion of Normandy-style media treatment − is covered as news.
USA TODAY and The (Nashville) Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, are looking to hire a full-time Swift reporter. And before you scoff, there is a simple reason why: People care about Swift. A lot.
Even the MTV Video Music Awards had a dedicated Swift camera, so we could see her every reaction to … everything.
So why do we care about Swift, anyway? For much the same reason we care about Kelce and football and sports in general, as well as arguments over who the best singer of all time is or what’s the best horror movie of all time. These are all things that ultimately affect us not at all. But getting all worked up about them is a harmless, and maybe even healthy, diversion from real-life worries. Above all else, it’s fun.
And make no mistake, Swift is a business. When she took over towns on her massive, record-breaking tour, the economic impact made it more than just a pop-music story.
And, apparently, just associating with her doesn’t hurt those in her orbit, either. Look at this nugget from the Kansas City FOX affiliate (where the ratings for KRAPOPOLIS were probably sky-high):
Kelce saw a nearly 400% increase in jersey sales after Swift’s appearance, Fanatics told TMZ Sports.
“Yesterday, Travis Kelce was one of the top 5 selling NFL players and saw a nearly 400% spike in sales throughout the Fanatics network of sites, including NFLShop.com,” Fanatics said.
Swift’s impact cannot be understated. While Kelce is one of the most popular players in the league, prior to Sunday’s game against the Bears, Kelce was outside the top 10 in jersey sales.
You might say that was a Swift rise in popularity. (Going for a “Blank Slate” reference, as CBS’ Ian Eagle did two weeks ago, is beneath me.)
And I suspect this will mushroom t0 an even higher level this Sunday night, when the Chiefs and, one suspects, the purveyors of this non-stop coverage hit the New York market for an NBC/Peacock national telecast against the Jets, who perhaps portend to be an even less daunting opponent than are the Bears. The same market that is the home of Page Six, where the first reports of their supposed romance occurred this summer.
FOX was castigated mercilessly by so many obsessives for switching away from the Bears-Chiefs blowout where Swift’s fandom was the most compelling storyline in favor of a closer and more suprising upset of the Dallas Cowboys by the Arizona Cardinals. Perhaps that’s why Mr. Goodykuntz and I share the same eye-rolling reaction to all of this noise. But with no other game to switch off to (hey, even baseball won’t be playing Sunday night), we’re stuck with this storyline should Taylor indeed show up.
I’d much rather this get played out in private. It’s not news, it’s none of my business, and if my ex-roommate’s current friendship with her NBA ex is any indication, they might actually have stronger future potential to stay friends if they can keep out of the spotlight.
But I suppose I will be drawn in nonetheless. I mean, this is becoming a de facto manifesto for the world of PR executives, as TODAY’s Elena Nicolaou reported:
Swift’s appearance at the game — and seated next to Kelce’s mother, Donna, no less — seemed to confirm the two had a connection. PR professional Melissa DiGianfilippo, president of Serendip Consulting in Phoenix, takes this as a confirmation of a relationship.
“Taylor seemed to kind of play a game in the beginning — not meeting up with him at the concert, not really responding to him, not really publicly doing anything until last night. That’s part of why I think this is rooted in truth,” DiGianfilippo says.
She continues, “Taylor is not seen unless she wants to be seen. She doesn’t comment unless she wants to be heard. She’s there to support him. That’s admittance enough (of) interest at the very least, or a deeper relationship.”
You kids play nice. I might just wind up checking out KRAPOPOLIS instead.
Until next time…