A Virginia Tech sports media expert and former EPSN analyst says already this season’s ratings for the NFL are the best they’ve been since 2015. Anthony Amey says a big part of that has been the relationship between Taylor Swift and Chiefs’ Travis Kelce. Amey says she has been a tremendous marketer for the league and Kansas City, and it will have a direct impact on this weekend’s Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.
Several other Tech experts are also weighing in on this phenomena.
Virginia Tech economist Jadrian Wooten says her likely attendance at the Super Bowl will also attract viewers who wouldn’t normally watch and that will result in a big return for Super Bowl advertisers who bought ad spots back in the fall. More here
Amey points to these other headlines to watch for surrounding the game:
A win for Kansas City would make the Chiefs the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions since Tom Brady led the Patriots to back-to-back titles in the 2003-04 seasons.
Kansas City has played in four of the last five Super Bowls, making the Chiefs only the third franchise ever to accomplish that.
San Francisco is aiming to win its sixth Super Bowl and the 49ers’ first since the 1994 season. A win for them would tie the 49ers with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots for the most all-time.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has won more playoff games prior to the age of 29 than anyone in NFL history, leading to debate that while still young he could be the greatest quarterback of all time.
“The backlash to the attention given to Taylor Swift this football season freshly revealed the deep vein of sexism that runs through American sports culture,” says Virginia Tech expert Megan Duncan.
She explains that most sports fans develop their identity at a young age as a social bonding activity with family and friends. “A change to the perception of how the game should be experienced can be unsettling and remove the ease to which the game can feel like an escape to world events.” Non-male fans are a crucial source of growth for the NFL, but they often strictly cater to stereotypically feminine tropes when attempting to appeal to a non-male audience. Duncan says the industry needs to widen its culture to incorporate all people, including all gender identifies.
“The sports media industry can do better to make all people excited to be a fan.”
Jerseys for No. 87 Travis Kelce, a tight end for the Chiefs and Swift’s rumored boyfriend, spiked by 400 percent, according to news reports.
The National Football League has responded to the Swift-mania by changing its Twitter banner to a photo of Swift and even airing commercials for the superstar’s new movie during a recent game.
Is the NFL overdoing the Swift bandwagon?
Not at all, says Amey. It’s good for the football business, and it’s a unique way to get in front of a new fan base.
“Although Sunday Night Football has been the No. 1 television show in America for a record 12 consecutive years, and NFL games rate higher than anything else in this country, of course the league wants those fans who would rarely or never watch a game to join and feel welcome, no matter what,” Amey said. “Provided the reasons are ethical, what seems to be more wholesome right now than Taylor Swift?”
“Even a league as popular and as profitable as the NFL will gladly welcome Taylor Swift and all of her hundreds of millions of followers, because that kind of business is good business for the owners, who know that hardcore fans will watch regardless of who is present or promoted,” he said.
“Those hardcore fans who just want to see football will have to shake it off.”
Virginia Tech voice expert Ariana Wyatt says there have been other figures with cultural impact, but none to the degree of Taylor Swift.
“The Beatles, Beyoncé, and Michael Jackson have had similar cultural impacts and changed the music industry, but not to the same degree as Swift. It has been reported that the economic impact that her Eras Tour generated this year exceeded $5 billion dollars. That level of impact is unprecedented. She is not only a cultural icon, but also a global economy,” Wyatt points out.
“Taylor Swift is constantly evolving. She lives in a musical space that is inclusive of multiple genres at once, and she is constantly reinventing her musical style. She always stays true to storytelling, and that creates an intimacy and passion in her music that speaks to millions of people.”
Economic expert Jadrian Wooten mentions the gambling side of the Super Bowl.
“The Super Bowl may not be the most gambled-on sporting event, but it is a significant time for sports betting. Last year, approximately 50 million gamblers collectively wagered an estimated $16 billion on the game, with roughly 1 in 5 Americans participating in some form. Given the heightened attention the season has seen, we may see even more betting activity this year,” says Wooten.
“What makes this year’s Super Bowl particularly intriguing are the unique proposition bets, or prop bets, that viewers may not be accustomed to seeing,” Wooten says. “While the usual prop bets, such as coin flip outcomes, the color of the Gatorade bath, and the length of the national anthem, will still be present, this year’s choices also include unconventional options like betting on a post-game proposal and even whether Taylor Swift will make an appearance at the game.”
The Big Game is coming, and whether you’re joining with friends and family out of hardcore sports fandom or simply hoping for a glimpse of Taylor Swift in the stands, you might feel the need to strategize what those gathering before your television will get to munch on.
Kristen Chang, a registered dietitian with the Virginia Tech Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, has tips for every stage of your snack preparation.
“On special occasions, many people fall into the trap of under-eating early in the day and ‘saving their calories’ for a big event,” Chang says. “To set yourself up for eating success on Super Bowl Sunday, consider the following general eating tips.”
Americans are expected to devour 1.45 billion chicken wings for the Super Bowl, according to the National Chicken Council.
Michael Persia, a professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in poultry nutrition and management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, says the game’s impact on the industry has been transformative. “They’ve taken a portion of the bird that was undesirable, turned it into a valuable product, and reduced waste.” Persia says. The history of the wing and how it came into popularity is an interesting story that goes back to the 1980s.
The first bite of the chicken wing dripping with hot sauce doesn’t feel so bad — flavorful, but has a bit of a kick. Eventually, that sweet heat turns into a roar complete with a tingling face and sweat streaked forehead.
Food science professor Sean O’Keefe says the levels of capsaicin, a colorless and odorless compound, found in peppers, are the reason why hot sauces bring the heat.
“What the capsaicin does is bind to nerve receptors in the body and gives a sensation of burning.”
As millions prepare to eat wings, O’Keefe is available to explain what makes hot sauce bring the heat and why extended exposure to capsaicin could make it more tolerable to the human body.
The Super Bowl slump
The day after the Super Bowl is often followed by a big drop in productivity after a night of partying and celebration.
Virginia Tech economist Jadrian Wooten says this can add to have a significant impact on the economy — that lost productivity can cost the economy about $6 billion.
“While the game may make only a small impact on an individual, it can add up quickly. Employers typically see the most employees call in sick, take extended lunch breaks, or simply spend the day in a daze after the big game.”
The slump will be felt most in the two teams’ cities. “The most impact of this will likely be felt the most in Kansas City and San Francisco and it could last for several days as employees struggle to return to their usual level of productivity.”