Musings of a Hoopster

Shawn Martin

Senior Columnist




   Why do I constantly have to see and hear about pop singer Taylor Swift attending Kansas City Chiefs games to watch her new boyfriend – star Tight End Travis Kelce – play every? I mean, isn’t he just going to be the subject of her next big hit boyfriend breakup song sung by every teeny-bopper scorned by their “first true love”?


   I was on my way home after a day of Uncle Shawn duties with my nephews Michael (6) and Remy (4), listening to Mad Dog Sirius XM Radio on my three-hour drive home through the Hoosier state. The hosts of that overnight show – Shan Shariff and RJ Choppy – rehashed their local radio discussion on 105.3-The Fan (Dallas) of the Sunday Night Football game between the Chiefs and the New York Jets, where NBC cameras and the game commentators went all-in on the Swift/Kelce angle that has captivated “Swifties” and somewhat infuriated football purist – many of whom have a Swifty” or two as daughters.


   Why do they interrupt football with this woman who may not know the difference between a first down and a touchdown?  Social Media feeds are full of humorous Meme’s from both ends of the spectrum.


   One pokes fun that because of Swift’s new presence in Kelce’s life, he has BECOME famous.




   But is it really an outlandish statement?


   I’m guessing almost all of you that are reading this right now are sports fans, and a very high percentage of you know exactly who Kelce is, who he plays with and for, and can probably recite from memory, his stats last week from your Fantasy Football experience. That is my world too.  


   For comparison’s sake, let’s look at some hard numbers – us sports fans, we love our numbers and statistics, don’t we?


   I’m almost 56 years old. A large portion of my social media exposure is that “dinosaur” – that is Facebook – err Meta.  In looking through the numbers my crack research staff put together for this expose, I discovered that Instagram literally has TWICE as many users as Facebook/Meta and Twitter/X COMBINED!


   Who knew?


   So I am not going to mess around with tiny numbers of those has-been outlets. WE ARE JUMPING FEET FIRST INTO THE DEEP END!!!!


   Let’s start with Ms. Swift shall we – her of the multi-billion dollar Eros tour and inserting herself into nearly every walk of life and conversation. Even OUR sports!


   Taylor Swift has 273 MILLION Instagram followers. Taking a guess that probably – and I’m being generous I think – less than five percent of that 273 million number also follow the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs, Travis Kelce, and Patrick Mahomes. Most of those 273 million probably only know Tom Brady or Peyton Manning because they saw them on a commercial.  Sunday night’s matchup between the Chiefs and the Jets – and remember Jets star quarterback Aaron Rogers who is out with an injury – drew a TV audience of 27 million viewers. That made it the most watched Sunday TV show since the Super Bowl in February. The game was 17-0 in the first quarter. Know what happened to the TV audience? Nothing. The Swifties continued to watch – even though many of them knew very little of what they were watching.






   TV advertisers notice and they see the numbers, and they will be buying up advertising hand over fist, as long as Taylor and Travis are a “thing”.


   Now let’s compare.


   The NFL has 28.3 million Instagram followers. For you math majors out there – that is TEN PERCENT the number that Swift has by herself! By the way, the NFL has gained a quarter millon new Instagram followers since news broke of the budding romance.


   The NBA is a lot more in-tune with the social media world. They have 83.4 million followers on Instagram.  Major League Baseball? 10.3 million. Another savvy sports league is the Premier League of professional soccer. They have 70.4 million Instagram followers.


   COMBINED – the above-mentioned leagues have a total of 192.4 million Instagram followers. If you add the NBA again, the leagues just surpass the total number of followers that Ms. Swift has by herself.


   The NFL’s media partners have less than 50 million Instagram followers combined – and I included the News divisions of Fox, NBC, and CBS as well as the sports divisions of those three plus Amazon.


   The last three United States Presidents are strong participants in social media, including Instagram. President Obama has 36.7 million Instagram followers. President Trump has 23.5 million. Current President Buden has his “personal” IG account and also has the POTUS Instagram under his control as well. Combined, those two have 36.8 million followers (presumably a percentage overlap). All together, those three – three of the most famous and known people on Earth – have 97 million Instagram followers. One third the number Taylor Swift has by herself.


   Heck, the grand total of all 32 NFL teams is just under 62 million followers! Many of the biggest stars in sports have tiny followings compared to Taylor Swift.  The others, they are almost non-existent compared to entertainer.


   Media economics are really quite simple.  More eyeballs and ears, lead to more clicks AND MORE MONEY!  The NFL and their broadcast partners are well aware of the ECONOMY that Taylor Swift is right now. There are 32 owners in the NFL that care about generating revenue almost as much as they approve of air to breath – and with some, that is up for debate.


Taylor Swift cameos aren’t going anywhere very soon.




I grew up in a small town. Much smaller than the one John Mellencamp sings about. Rossville, Indiana didn’t – and still doesn’t – have a football team for their students to participate in. There are a plethora of reasons the Hornets have never fielded a high school football team.


   Currently the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) is allowing schools to experiment with 8-man football designed to give smaller schools with limited resources and student populations, the ability to provide playing opportunities in a very popular sport to their students without the significant startup costs and the amount of time to develop a program of athletes that have the fundamental base to play the sport competitively and safely.


   There are a dozen schools throughout Indian sponsoring 8-man teams this Fall. Several dozen others are exploring the option for the near future.  There are several schools – especially in the 1A and 2A Classes – that have a lot of trouble with numbers, which leads to many problems with injury and development opportunities for younger student athletes.  Probably a few schools that more often than not, have two dozen or less players come out for the sport, should look into 8-man in the future if it becomes a sport that the IHSAA holds a state tournament in in the future.


   I think this is a tremendous idea that is being looked at by the IHSAA and their member schools.


   As most know, I am a basketball guy – remember I didn’t have the opportunity to play football – and in less than a month, the girls basketball teams will be playing their first week of games!  There are many good teams and great players all over the state of Indiana and I hope you take a chance to go and see those teams and players. They deserve a good crowd and fans cheering for them.


   I’m going to suggest an incoming freshman girl’s basketball player for you all to keep an eye on and maybe you can catch a game of hers sometime. You won’t be disappointed.


   6-0 combo guard/wing Lillie Graves from McCutcheon (Lafayette) is one of the top ten incoming freshmen (2027) girls basketball players in the nation.  I have had the opportunity to work a little – VERY LITTLE – with her, and she is as good as it gets! When she finishes her high school career, she will be among the girl’s players everyone will remember! She has spent her Fall on a lot of college football fields while being hosted by many of the top women’s basketball programs in the country. She already is approaching two dozen scholarship offers before she has had her first high school practice. 


   If the Mavs play reasonably close to you over the next four years, I encourage you grab a bag of popcorn and a seat and watch.



   Good luck to all the high school football teams as the regular season wraps up and the state tournament begins. It all ends Thanksgiving weekend in Lucas Oil Stadium!

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