The Ravens lost on the field, but Taylor Swift lost in life given her beau's behavior at the game. – Baltimore Sun

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Last year was resoundingly the year of Taylor Swift. In 2023, she was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, she became a billionaire, and she found love with Travis Kelce.
For Swifties, perhaps Taylor’s biggest win of the year was her relationship with Kelce. After all, like many of us, she’s endured years of heartbreak from countless heartless heartthrobs. Swifties and non-Swifties alike have been celebrating for months, glued to the TV each Sunday, waiting to see a clip of her dutifully cheering on her football-playing, tough-guy boyfriend from a suite in whatever NFL stadium they’re in.
But has she really won with this relationship?
As a millennial who has grown up alongside Taylor Swift, I, like many others, blindly celebrated our Juliet for finally finding her Romeo.
She’s provided many an anthem that my millennial peers and I have sung along to as our own hearts have healed from heartbreak by people we’ve dated who have made it clear to us that we are “never, ever, ever getting back together.”
And yet watching her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, play in the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, I couldn’t help but feel that Taylor hasn’t won at all. She’s lost.
Before the game even started, ESPN shared footage of Kelce throwing the helmet and warm-up equipment of Raven’s kicker Justin Tucker as he was warming up.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not behavior I’d expect from my Romeo — or the reigning NFL champions. It’s bad sportsmanship, the behavior of a bully on the playground at recess.
Throughout the game, Kelce demonstrated behavior that made me feel like maybe we’ve been viewing him through the tinted lenses of a lavender haze. Kelce was shown repeatedly antagonizing Raven’s players, smiling and laughing as he taunted them. In fact, Kelce has a history of taunting. He was ejected in a 2016 game for throwing a towel at a referee. In 2014, he garnered press for making an obscene gesture at a referee during a game.
I couldn’t help but watch and feel sorry for Taylor. I cringed, thinking about how embarrassed I’d be if my own boyfriend acted that way in public, let alone on national TV.
I’ve always imagined Taylor, the woman so many women in my generation look up to as a pillar of success, dating a man who acts with civility and grace, who is kind, even in competition. I’ve always imagined her with someone who treats her, and those around him, with respect and care.
For years, this is what we’ve said Taylor deserves. Heck, it’s what subliminally, she’s crooned about deserving too.
I’m not going to pretend I know the inner workings of Travis and Taylor’s relationship, because I’m just an outsider looking in, but I think we’ve overlooked something in celebrating this relationship.
In Taylor, I see my younger self, a star-crossed lover dating the hot jock, a girl who is too infatuated to see the red flags, let alone act on them. I see a woman who is so eager to fill the blank space in her heart with his name, so love-struck that she can’t see that she’s in a relationship with a man who doesn’t act with kindness, dignity or respect. If that’s how Kelce acts when cameras are on him, how does he act when they’re not?
Is this a relationship we really want to celebrate? Is Travis Kelce really who we want to hold up as a “nice” guy? Is he really the guy that Taylor Swift deserves?
Maybe yes, maybe no. Most likely, we’ll never really know.
Or maybe we’ve been fooled by Taylor too. Maybe her choice of Kelce reveals something about her that we want to ignore — that she might not have evolved and healed as much as we give her credit for.  Maybe, instead of being the hero who has finally found her prince, she’s the antihero, the woman still stuck in the pattern of falling so hard and fast, who can’t clearly see the person in front of her.
So yes, the Chiefs and Kelce may have won the game, but the way they behaved revealed that the Ravens weren’t the real losers Sunday night. Taylor was.
Emily Fleming ([email protected]) is an education consultant, sometimes writer, avid Ravens fan and yoga teacher who was born and raised in Baltimore.
 
Copyright © 2024 Baltimore Sun

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