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The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Commentary: A Swiftie walks into a sports bar

Lizzie Miller

The assignment was simple: write about Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and the NFL. As a self-described Swiftie, I enthusiastically offered my services.  

“What if I write about going to a sports bar as a Swift fan?” I said, sealing my fate.  

I go to sports bars so infrequently, I forgot that they existed. I learned that Kelce’s team, the Kansas City Chiefs, would play Oct. 8 against the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota.  

My heart immediately sank. No offense to Minnesotans, but I knew Taylor Swift was not going to Minnesota. I would not be able to study the reactions of bar patrons every time the NFL showed Swift in the box with Kelce’s mom. 

I shook it off, my disappointment that is, and started to mentally prepare for all the conversations I’d be having with the bar full of football fans. Let the games begin. 

I decided to go to Jimmy D’s District in Arlington Heights. The bar is across from the demolished remains of the Arlington Park racetrack, which may be transformed into the new Chicago Bears stadium.  

Sunday came and I slipped on my beloved blue Eras Tour crew neck, which I was lucky enough to buy at the June 9 show in Detroit. I laced up my sportiest sneakers and twisted my hair into anEvermore’ braid. This Swiftie was going to a sports bar. 

Long story short, no one at the sports bar cared. They were busy watching one of the variety of sporting events being shown on the many televisions in the bar. There was baseball, NASCAR and multiple different NFL games on the screens. The crowd was a hodgepodge of fans and tagalongs without a Chiefs fan in sight. 

Attending the Eras Tour was better than my wildest dreams. The largely female audience at Ford Field was helpful and considerate. We complimented each other’s outfits and traded friendship bracelets. We handed our phones to total strangers for photo shoots. I felt safe in a lavender haze of camaraderie.  

That was not my experience at the sports bar. 

It’s not that I felt unsafe. The bar had attentive staff and the most delicious french fries. The day simply lacked a unifying force for all of us to hold on to. I suspect there would have been a greater sense of togetherness had the Bears been playing.  

There was no dancing around it. If only I searched for a “Kansas City Chiefs bar.” Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve.  

Toons Bar & Grill, located at 3857 N. Southport Ave., proudly hosts the Chiefs Kingdom. Owner Danny Beck offered insight into whether or not Swift’s presence has affected life at the bar.  

“We hit capacity almost every game, but we haven’t seen any Swifties just showing up to watch the Chiefs,” Beck said. 

I might not have gotten in if I had gone to Toons for the game. Beck recommended his other bar, Beck’s Chicago at 2201 N. Clybourn Ave, as a backup for Swifties wanting to join the Chiefs crowd. 

To Beck, the frenzy is harmless.  

“It’s just kind of fun for what it is,” Beck said. “A lot of new people are watching football. Hopefully they’ll be Chiefs fans.” 

Beck’s remarks are supported by the data. Variety reports that about 27 million people tuned in when Taylor attended the Chiefs game against the Jets on Oct. 1. The game became the most-watched Sunday game since the February 2023 Super Bowl. 

According to Dan Azzaro, a DePaul public relations and advertising professor specializing in sports communication and marketing, the NFL has intentionally embraced the Swift-Kelce momentum. The social media bio updates? None of it was accidental.  

“They’re going to take something and ride it until it’s dead,” Azzaro said. “They knew they had Taylor Swift fans who were going to watch.” 

Azzaro and Beck both think the moment has passed, though Azzaro says frustrated fans may not be out of the woods. 

“I guarantee you if Kansas City gets to the Super Bowl, we’re going to see shots of her all over the place,” Azzaro said.    

Back at Jimmy D’s District, I sought out the perspective of the bartender, Jamie. Surely she could speak for fans at the bar. Dear reader, her response was immediate. 

“They think it’s annoying,” Jamie said when asked about bar patron’s reactions to Swift. “They all complain that they want to see the game, not her.”

With Jamie’s words, I understood. Seeing celebrities show up in the VIP tent at the Eras Tour was exciting, but it wasn’t why I went to the concert.  

There should be no bad blood between Swifties and sports fans. After all, we both spend our hard-earned money on tickets and bedazzle our faces. I suspect the unity I felt at the Eras Tour is how football fans feel when they pull up a barstool next to someone wearing their team’s colors. 

 Maybe sports fans aren’t eager to trade friendship bracelets with Swifties at the bar, but I think they can tolerate it. 

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    Steven GregersonOct 16, 2023 at 8:10 pm

    Very cool story…got me thinking…I’m about as much of a Chiefs fan as I am a Swift fan but I like the interesting drama of a fair damsel rooting for her hero!

    Go Lions!