Tony Dungy seems to have gotten himself in a splash of hot water with none other than Taylor Swift.
Earlier this evening, on the eve of the Hula Bowl– basically the discount (don’t cancel me) Senior Bowl, held in the magical land of Orlando, the same city that hosts the nation’s favorite kind of sports game – the Pro Bowl, Dungy was asked about a poll which suggested that only 23% of Gen Z-ers thought of themselves as *avid* sports fans.
Dungy responded by asserting that many young people were disenchanted by professional sports. When prompted about his thoughts on Taylor Swift, the recently converted Kansas City Chiefs fan due to her public relationship with tight end, Travis Kelce, Dungy confirmed that he felt Swift was a main reason for fan’s moving away from full-on NFL fandom.
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) January 13, 2024
Why Does Dungy Believe Taylor Swift Disenchants Football Fans?
Dungy stated that the social media/popular culture NFL wave lead by Swift has lead to young people not focusing on what matters most, the sport itself.
“There’s so much on the outside coming in. Entertainment value and different things. Taking away from what really happens on the field.”
As Swift’s soaring stardom has eventually gone from TIME Person of the Year and very much crept into even our sports coverage, it does seem that mega-celebrities at sports games – especially ones who have attended games as religiously as she has, moves the needle even for a juggernaut like the NFL.
This past NFL Season was the second most watched ever, and Swift’s appearances have lead to her even receiving comments from the Man of Few Emotions himself. Yet, despite the backlash, of which there has been plenty – I’ll just pick some of the most eloquent below.
— 🇺🇦Banquo, a US hegemony enjoyer (@BanquoDyar) January 13, 2024
I fear Tony Dungy is part of why NFL fans are ‘disenchanted’ with Tony Dungy. https://t.co/4bRjTOP1bT
— Kurtis Seaboldt 🎤 (@KSeaboldt) January 13, 2024
Swifties going after Tony Dungy pic.twitter.com/3pLkQ59ZgI
— Jeffrey Walizer Jr (@JWalizerJr) January 13, 2024
And the most cruel..
Tony Dungy is just a skinny, successful Jason Whitlock at this point.
— GussTheLawyer ⚖️ (@gussthelawyer) January 13, 2024
As I was saying – despite the backlash, it is not a wholly unreasonable thing to say – that extra-curricular sporting affairs diminish the sporting product as a whole. But, others can also retort that Swift herself brings more people into the NFL’s vicinity of storytelling, although one may question for how long this Swiftie-NFL infatuation partnership will last.