A few weeks ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were playing the Los Angeles Chargers in my hometown of L.A. Never mind that the Chargers were having a terrible season. Never mind that the Chiefs had already clinched their playoff spot and that their A-listers, namely Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes, weren’t likely to play. My 17-year-old and her friends were determined to go. They snagged tickets on StubHub for cheap, my daughter donned her newly acquired number 87 jersey and off they went to the stadium. My daughter’s excitement was palpable, and she sent me constant footage of the game, along with, of course, several videos of Travis just being Travis on the sidelines.
In the subsequent weekends, she and I have spent hours hunkered on the couch, screaming and cheering and second-guessing play calls throughout the playoffs. I grew up wanting to be a sportscaster and have always loved professional sports, and for the past few years, my daughter has followed my son’s lead into heated fantasy football leagues with her friends. But the Traylor/Swelce fever has upped her fervor (and mine) to a new dimension.
Taylor Swift has given us a lot to bond over during a developmental period (her teens) when my daughter might rather spend her time elsewhere, and indeed, sometimes does. We’ve seen every tour since “Red”; we’ve memorized every song since “Fearless.” My daughter has grown up as Taylor has grown into herself, and I hold deep admiration for the singer's work ethic, poetic lyricism and unmatched business acumen. So if my daughter wants to obsess over everything from Swift's bridges to her boyfriend’s rushing yardage, I’m in full support of it. The NFL aspect is just one more way that she and I can find common ground, and on this, I’m certainly not alone.
Despite the grumblings of various sexist dolts (Skip Bayless, seriously, get a life), there are tweets popping up faster than Tortured Poets Department preorders from dads, siblings, spouses and partners, delighting at the fact that their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers and friends are partaking in their Sunday ritual. My daughter and college-freshman son, who can argue with each other like pointy-elbowed debaters, have taken to texting each other about fantasy picks, trades, the NFL draft and calamitous seasons and spectacular comebacks. (Truth be told, she and I had written off the Chiefs’ Super Bowl hopes in early December. We consoled ourselves with the fact that Travis could accompany Taylor on tour, but honestly, neither one of us wanted our Sundays together to end.)
The teen years can be rocky when it comes to finding common ground with your child, and to be sure, my daughter and I still do spat over plenty of things, but never is it about Taylor, never is it on Sundays. And as parents of teens know, these small victories are more than victories, they are treasures.
So the Taylor-Travis NFL fervor and what that has fostered in our house — and well beyond our house — is of course, a joy, a celebration. It's also one of the very reasons that so many people immerse themselves in professional sports in the first place. The camaraderie of rooting for a team feels unmatched, and when that camaraderie is with your children or your loved ones, it’s even more spectacular. Does my daughter mind that there are naysayers who find Swift’s attendance, or the inclusion of Swifties, annoying? Honestly, she’s having too much fun to care. When I asked her about it, she rolled her eyes and moved on. The way she sees it, if misogynists allow Swift to ruin their experience with the sport or the team or the players, that’s their own doing, not Swift’s and not my daughter’s. We are only responsible for keeping our side of the street clean, after all.
Last night, while I was writing this, my daughter blew up my text with more TikToks of Travis being questioned about Taylor in his pre-Super Bowl interviews, and in each clip, he appears to have the same reverence for his girlfriend’s talent and savvy that my daughter does. It’s impossible not to connect the dots here: that my daughter — and millions of other young women — are internalizing the dynamic between the two superstars and digesting how they can fill their personal roster with people who root for them in the same way. While I don’t have any insider information, the Traylor relationship appears to be one of respect, one of mutual admiration, one where each (despite the complainers) has pushed the other into an even higher level of professional excellence. What sort of parent wouldn’t get behind that?
This weekend, we’re hosting a Super Bowl party for my daughter’s friends. The guests are all girls who have been in her fantasy league for the past few years, but this season, things are more exciting, more electric (Travis’s favorite word, if you listen to New Heights, as she and I obviously do now), and I have no doubt that they'll arrive at our house dressed in Chiefs red or bejeweled number 87 jerseys to match my daughter’s. Will we cheer when they pan to Swift in her skybox, fresh off of the jet from Tokyo? I mean, obviously, yes. But for me, for my daughter, for millions of parents and kids and partners and fans, that quick hit of Taylor and even the outcome of the game will be less consequential than the time we spent together watching it. That, ultimately, is the endgame, and we really are the lucky ones.
Allison Winn Scotch is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels. Her 10th book, Take Two, Birdie Maxwell, will be released on March 5. She lives in Los Angeles with her family — including two teens. Read her Ask Allison advice column for Yahoo Life here.