Since late September, I’ve found myself regularly asking my sons: “When do the Chiefs play again?” They are not happy that my interest has little to do with the game itself and downright disturbed by my sudden enthusiasm for an “enemy nation.” But I’m not looking for fanfare.
As the mother of three football players, I have a love-hate relationship with the sport. With one eye closed, I’ve watched countless games, praying more for safety than victory. I often join the boys on the couch on Sundays and Monday nights more to engage with them than anyone on the screen – until recently.
I’ve assured them I have not turned my back on New York, as my youngest admonished during the Buffalo game. I’m not a fan of the color red. (Go Blue!) And while I grew up captivated by the tornado that transported Dorothy to Oz, any connection to the state of Kansas, (ok, Missouri) stops there.
My excitement also has little to do with a certain mega-star. It’s not that I am a Swiftie. I’m not. Maybe it’s a Gen X thing or that I’m a boy-mom whose only daughter is more a Beyonce girl.. I’m all for friendship bracelets, but I’ve never been to a Taylor Swift concert and this summer listened with mild amusement as my sister-in-law employed words like “revival” and “transformational” to describe the Eras Tour.
I want the camera to focus early and often on the box where Momma Kelce and Taylor Swift stand gripping each other in anticipation of the next play not because I’m a super fan, but because I’ve been there.
My sons do not, and I can be fairly sure will not, play in the NFL, but I have spent the better part of the last 15 falls on the sidelines or in the stands of a football field. From late August heat waves to November’s bone-chilling nights, I’ve packed the cooler, retrieved the forgotten cleats and pads, and cheered them on. Ambivalence about the game aside, watching them play has been one of my greatest joys.
This season it’s been a thrill to see this joy play out in technicolor for another family. Seeing a veritable icon show up, bundle up, and endure frigid football games week after week has made me laugh and cry. I realize she’s in a heated suite donning designer winter wear, but there are far more comfortable, less intrusive places for the most famous woman in the world to hang out. She hardly needs attention or opponents’ taunting jeers, but there she is, squished together with the team families because she loves a boy on the field – and win or lose — she wants to be there to give him (and his mom) a hug after he plays his heart out.
I know there are many dedicated women out there pulling for their sons, brothers, boyfriends, and husbands, but it’s been extraordinary to watch Taylor Swift experience what the rest of us have all these years: the trek to far away games in snow and rain, the thrill of the catch or tackle, the heartbreak of the miss, the fumble, the loss. It’s watching love play out on the big screen – all right there in fire engine red – and I don’t know why anyone wants to pan away from it or pan it at all.
We all know the work that goes into excelling at a sport, or at anything, for that matter — and how much it means to have someone in your corner. Donna Kelce knows this. Brother Jason knows this. And the icon knows this.
During commercials and off weeks, I’ve given myself a crash course on all things Taylor. I am in awe of her work ethic, her creativity, and her willingness to write about her life so openly and honestly. I don’t understand the detractors or why my brother is bringing up something about snakes. Stop it.
She is there with his mom sitting on the edge of her seat like the rest of us. She is there because she loves him. And I love that.
Watching someone you love compete is like hopping on a rickety old roller coaster. You strap on the harness, endure the highs and crashing lows, and hope for the best. I love Taylor Swift for taking that ride, for weathering the losses and celebrating the wins, for showing up to Buffalo and Baltimore. I get it, she has a private plane, but that plane could just as easily fly to Belize or St. Barth’s. She’s there because she loves a player – who loves a game. And however “cringe” some boys may find it, this mom can’t get enough…and, she knows when the Chiefs play again.
He plays football and I’m in the bleachers