Student sports fans, Swifties dissect Travis Kelce and Taylor’s Swift’s romance, impact on Kansas City Chiefs
One writer explores the facets of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s recent relationship and how it has impacted the Kansas City Chiefs.
This article is featured in the 2023 Homecoming special issue.
“This ain’t for the best / my reputation’s never been worse” popstar Taylor Swift whimsically sings in her track “Delicate” on her sixth album, “Reputation.” But perhaps this time, her budding romance with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is for the best.
This September, Chiefs fans prepared for another season of football, while fans of Swift — known as Swifties — were celebrating the wild success of The Eras Tour. Neither group had imagined that, in just weeks, they would be united through the new relationship between Kelce and Swift. How much more iconic can a matchup get: A global superstar singer cheering on an incredible tight end after he attended her record-breaking world tour?
According to ESPN, Kelce initially shared that he tried to give Swift a friendship bracelet with his number on it when the singer visited Kansas City as one of her tour stops. The bracelet did not reach Swift, but the feelings Kelce had for her had spread across the media. Soon enough, rumors that the two had been “secretly hanging out” surfaced.
“I’ve seen you rock the stage in Arrowhead, maybe you can come see me rock the stage in Arrowhead,” Kelce said during his appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” referring to the Chief’s home stadium.
The rumors quickly evolved into fairytale reality as Swift was seen with Kelce’s mother on home turf at the Chiefs’s matchup against the Chicago Bears. The Chiefs routed the Bears, winning 41-10. Kelce secured seven receptions, 69 yards and a touchdown. Kelce and the entire offense seemed rejuvenated after looking lethargic during the first two weeks. After the Bears game, Swift attended two of the next three games, and Kelce continued dominating the stats.
Swift’s level of exposure through the NFL has also been met with scrutiny from some football fans, according to Fox News. Some fans have expressed frustration, as they view Swift’s screen time as something that takes away from the game and the players.
“I feel like it will definitely be distracting to the actual game, because at the end of the day, it is a football game — everyone came to watch football, even Taylor Swift,” Kansas City local and Chiefs fan Joy Yan ’27 said.
“It’s not exactly fair to all of the guys that are out there that worked really hard and [are] kind of getting their spotlight stolen, but I also don’t blame the NFL at all,” Swiftie Elliot Ecklund ’26 said.
Emmy Replogle ’25 instead feels that Swift’s increased screen time is “what people are wanting,” and as a result, the number of people watching the Chiefs’s games “has gone up like crazy.”
“I really am a fan of it,” Replogle said. “I think it’s such a good relationship because they are such different people, and I really love all the speculation around it.”
According to Deadline’s report of Amazon’s statistics, approximately 13.38 million viewers tuned in to Prime Video for the Chiefs’ game against the Denver Broncos — an observed 57% increase from last year’s comparable Thursday Night Football game, which stood at 8.79 million viewers for the Washington Commanders against the Bears.
ESPN also reported a “Taylor Swift effect,” as the rumored relationship prompted about a 400% increase in sales of Kelce’s bright red jersey with his gold number 87.
Football and music seem to have a symbiotic relationship. One only has to look at the popular attraction of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, starting in 1967 with the University of Arizona Symphonic Marching Band to popstar Rihanna in 2023. According to Uproxx, Rihanna’s performance had more viewers than the game itself during this year’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles. It should come as no surprise that the Chiefs have experienced three times as many ticket sales in a 24-hour window for recent games due to Swift’s recurring presence.
This increase in demand for tickets is representative of changing demographics in football viewership. For the Chiefs' game against the New York Jets, viewership increased 53% among teen girls aged 12-17, and overall viewership was up by 22%. Ecklund sees this development as a plus due to observations of more women getting invested in football culture.
“I think it’s made progress in making football more welcoming to women … especially when it has to do with the Chiefs, Ecklund said.
What makes the relationship between the two icons interesting is how unique their fan bases are.
Holland Bald ’25 — a Swiftie — shared how Kelce isn’t necessarily well-known amongst Swift’s fanbase.
“[Kelce] doesn’t have a lot of pre-existing baggage [with] people in the Swifty community — nobody really has particularly strong opinions about Travis Kelce,” Bald said.
Yan expressed her initial shock at the connection made between the two celebrities.
“It was just really weird because I’ve seen Travis Kelce for so long [growing up] in Kansas City, and all of Taylor Swift’s fans are all of a sudden watching the Chiefs game,” Yan said.
Ecklund expressed that the potentially inherent differences between the two may lead to the couple parting ways sooner rather than later.
“I don’t know that they’re compatible on an intellectual level,” Ecklund said. “Not that Travis Kelce isn’t smart … I feel like she would maybe want someone that understood her art form on a deeper level.”
However, Dumsky felt that Kelce’s performance on the field has noticeably improved since he started seeing Swift.
“[Kelce] has been playing a little better since Taylor Swift [entered] the scene,” Dumsky said.
In regards to Swift’s well-being, Bald pointed out that a breakup could result in misogynistic treatment towards the singer by the media.
“[There is a possibility] a lot of big outlets start slut shaming her or [say] that she has a new guy every week,” Bald said.
As a fan concerned for Swift’s happiness, Bald hopes that “people know how to treat her … with respect,” especially in light of negative media attention she received in 2016.
Some fans speculate that the relationship is simply a PR stunt, according to Sportskeeda, and that timing of the relationship is questionable given the start of the NFL season combined with the Oct. 13 release of The Eras Tour movie: “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour.”
“It seems like too big of a coincidence that it wasn’t planned out before,” Dumsky said. “However, the possibility of it being a coincidence certainly exists.”
Yan echoed these sentiments by pointing out the power of the media.
“There’s always some sort of intention when it comes to celebrities and what they do to gain the most amount of media attention and maximize their potential,” Yan said.
Some Swifties — on the other hand — share that it would not make sense for this to be a simple attention grab, as Swift is already extremely popular.
“[Swift] has enough publicity on her own that she doesn’t need publicity from dating Travis Kelce to boost sales,” Ecklund said.
Some Chiefs fans are welcoming the gain in attention and economic implications the romantic relationship could have on Kansas City.
Kansas City local Marco Dumsky ’27 said the relationship adds more excitement to living in his city.
“I’m all for the relationship,” Dumsky said. “I hope that Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift do end up getting together … I feel like it’s a great thing for Kansas City.”
Yan emphasized Dumsky’s excitement regarding the relationship’s impact on Kansas City.
“This could really put Kansas City on the map,” Yan said, in terms of influencing the number of tourists visiting, but she also worried that this could hurt intimate, small-community ties due to the burden of small businesses having to accommodate more visitors and popularity.
Dumsky emphasized this concern regarding insufficient infrastructure to support an economic boom that accompanies an increased inflow of people.
“[It] makes for a tough situation from a business owner perspective,” Dumsky said.
However, both Yan and Dumsky agreed that the relationship would result in a net positive for the Kansas City economy, despite initial growing pains.
Yan expressed excitement that Kelce and Swift’s relationship may even attract more Chiefs fans in general and even hoped that there will be an increase of Chiefs supporters at Dartmouth. The College has a strong Swiftie fanbase, evident by a GroupMe messaging chat called “Swifties of Dartmouth,” which has nearly 500 members.
The rumored relationship seems to be a win for all involved as of now. Only time will tell how the relationship and its perceived impacts will play out.
“It kind of just seems like they’re both having fun and hanging out,” Bald said. “So I’ll be interested to see if they last.”
Kelce and Swift were spotted holding hands this past Saturday night in New York City, as both made an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Swift has a “Blank Space,” and she’s writing Kelce’s name.