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The Taylor Swift effect and the sudden surge in female NFL fans

A new report found that 64% of Gen Z and millennial women now hold a favorable view of the NFL, the highest figure ever.
The Taylor Swift effect and the sudden surge in female NFL fans
Posted at 10:48 AM, Feb 08, 2024

In what seems like an overnight phenomenon, the impact that Taylor Swift has had on the NFL is undeniable. And the league is all on board.

The numbers tell a "Love Story." According to Morning Consult, nearly two-thirds of Gen Z or Millennial women now have a favorable view of the NFL, the highest figure ever. Female support for the league has been growing steadily since 2017, but spiked 11% between July and December of last year.

SEE MORE: NFL popularity booms as game-day viewership continues to grow

The surge just so happens to coincide with Swift's emergence at NFL games and her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. The pair were first linked in July after Kelce tried to give Swift his number at her concert at Arrowhead Stadium.

And while the Taylor Swift effect is now in the spotlight, sports podcast host Jessica Smetana says women have always loved the NFL, it's just taken some time for people to notice.

"[People] always ask if my dad made me into a sports fan," Smetana told Scripps News. "And I think that that's so bizarre because the women in my family were the biggest sports fans. A bunch of us were standing on the sideline of an NFL game and asked ourselves why there were barely any women working on the actual game itself."

Sam Rapoport is a senior director at the NFL. She began the NFL Women's Forum after that realization eight years ago, which has since led to a 141% increase in women taking roles in the league, including coaching positions.

"We're seeing so many more women who are now seeing representation of themselves on the sidelines," Rapoport said. "And that's usually what it takes for them to realize that this is for them too, and that they should shoot their shot."

SEE MORE: 'Swiftonomics': How the NFL, Kansas City have cashed in on Kelce-Swift

Teams are taking initiative, too. The Philadelphia Eagles are about to kick off their third year sponsoring a flag football league that provides more than 2,000 girls across Pennsylvania and New Jersey with equipment and jerseys to introduce them to the sport. Daniel Levy is the league's community relations manager and he too is seeing the impact it has.

"I think [the league] speaks for itself when it says that girls want to play and we just want to provide the opportunity for them to play," Levy said. "And the Eagles have always been committed to equity in our space and this is no different."

While there may be a new influx of Swifties paying attention to the NFL, the rise of female representation on and off the gridiron is certainly no fluke.

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