Taylor Swift’s All-American persona has helped propel her from the bleachers into the stratosphere of pop culture. This year, she embraced a key element of being Miss Americana: football. The pop superstar has attended five NFL games this season to cheer on her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
In her TIME Person of the Year cover story published Wednesday, Swift shared some thoughts on embracing the sport. “Football is awesome, it turns out,” she said. “I’ve been missing out my whole life.” NFL STATS CENTRAL: The latest NFL scores, schedules, odds, stats and more. Kelce and Swift made their first public appearance together in Week 3 after she attended her first game at Arrowhead Stadium. She sat in a suite next to Kelce’s mom, Donna, and cheered him on as the Chiefs beat the Chicago Bears. Swift, a former Philadelphia Eagles fan, said that she and the All-Pro tight end were already together at that point. She said his attempts to give her his phone number via a friendship bracelet at her Eras Tour show, which he detailed on his New Heights podcast, is what initiated their connection. She thought the gesture “was metal as hell.” “We started hanging out right after that,” she said. “So we actually had a significant amount of time that no one knew, which I’m grateful for, because we got to get to know each other. By the time I went to that first game, we were a couple. I think some people think that they saw our first date at that game? We would never be psychotic enough to hard launch a first date.”
That Chiefs-Chicago Bears game was the most-watched matchup of the week and saw a big viewership boost among women. Fans have complained about the attention Swift is getting by sports media and how often she’s shown while cheering from her suite. Kelce even noted on his show that the hype over their relationship was a bit much. “I don’t know how they know what suite I’m in,” Swift said. “There’s a camera, like, a half-mile away, and you don’t know where it is, and you have no idea when then camera is putting you in the broadcast, so I don’t know if I’m being shown 17 times or once. … I’m just there to support Travis. I have no awareness of if I’m being shown too much and pissing off a few dads, Brads, and Chads.” Kelce previously spoke on being in such a high-profile relationship. “Obviously I’ve never dated anyone with that kind of aura about them. … I’ve never dealt with it. But at the same time, I’m not running away from any of it …” he said in a WSJ Magazine interview published last month. “The scrutiny she gets, how much she has a magnifying glass on her, every single day … and she’s just living, enjoying life.”
Swift explained how she embraces being in a public relationship and the importance of supporting each other. Overall, the two-time Super Bowl champion has performed better with her in attendance. Besides her attending his games, Kelce was in the crowd at her Buenos Aires show where she changed a lyric of “Karma” to shout him out. “When you say a relationship is public, that means I’m going to see him do what he loves, we’re showing up for each other, other people are there and we don’t care,” she said. “The opposite of that is you have to go to an extreme amount of effort to make sure no one knows that you’re seeing someone. And we’re just proud of each other.”