Taylor and Travis Turned Football Into Father-Daughter Bonding: Here’s How Dads Can Keep It Up

written by KATHY SISSON
father-daughter bonding over football"
father-daughter bonding over football
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider

One of the most heartwarming parts of the Taylor Swift Eras Tour phenomenon was the emergence of Swiftie dads. Social media was flooded with adorable father-daughter duets, custom Eras Tour T-shirts, and even groups of dads waiting together to pick their daughters up from the concert. This fall, Taylor Swift brought about another unlikely source of dads and daughters bonding: football. Her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has given the NFL a dramatic spike in viewership among girls and women after the couple’s hard launch, with ratings growing 53 percent among girls aged 12-17. The Taylor Swift effect on dads and daughters bonding over football even made its way into one of this year’s Super Bowl commercials.

My own living room couch has also seen this trend play out. While my daughters, ages 8 and 11, and I usually exit our home on Sunday afternoons while my husband stays home to yell at the TV, this NFL season had us actually watching together as a family (it helped that our house also roots for the Detroit Lions, who had a banner season as well). 

But with the Super Bowl closing out the NFL season this weekend, how can my husband—and other dads—keep the father-daughter bonding going? Here, with the help of Nicholette Leanza, a clinical counselor at LifeStance Health, we are sharing therapist-approved tips to keep dads and daughters bonding over football (and Taylor Swift) well into the postseason.

Why Father-Daughter Bonding Is Important

Daddy-daughter bonding—or girls bonding with a beloved father figure—has a host of benefits. Leanza shared, “This special bond is important because it provides emotional security for her and may shape her interactions and perception of men in the future. Having a positive relationship with her father can help build a more positive perception about men in general.”

Finding Common Interests With Your Daughter

Of course, bonding doesn’t just happen over football. Dads have plenty of opportunities to find other ways to connect with their daughters. “The best way for dads to find common interests with their daughters is to have conversations with them about what interests the both of you and then spending quality time doing those interests together,” said Leanza. Without football to chat about, dads can ask thoughtful questions that allow her to respond with more than a one-word answer, suggested Leanza, and practice active listening. What does that mean? Being fully present and listening without judgment will encourage her to open up more.

“Remembering things she shared before and asking follow-up questions is also important,” said Leanza. “Some examples are: What was the highlight of your day today? What is something you find really interesting currently?” 

Leanza continued, “They may find that they have some mutual things in common, like enjoying hiking or watching scary movies. On the other hand, there may be some things they don’t have in common, but maybe they can find a compromise. For example, dad may enjoy listening to classic rock while daughter prefers pop, so they might make a shared playlist to listen to in the car. Or, if your daughter loves sports, find another sport or activity to watch or play together.”

Tips for Making the Super Bowl a Positive Father-Daughter Experience

So what happens if dad is rooting for the San Francisco 49ers this weekend? AKA against Taylor’s boyfriend? Modeling good sportsmanship is key, even when sports passions are running high. “Don’t be a jerk and cheer loudly if the Chiefs fumble or throw an interception or rub it in your daughter’s face if the Chiefs are losing. Be sensitive to her feelings… The point of watching the game is to watch it together and role model positivity and good sportsmanship for her,” Leanza said. Additionally, model positivity when talking about Taylor Swift. Disparaging Taylor—even if you think your daughter is out of earshot—can harm the bond you’ve built.

Leanza also shared that some daughters may take a deeper interest in the NFL just as a way to spend time with their dad or to share something that he’s interested in, which is pretty heartwarming, too. So, if this NFL season turns out to be just a one-off moment, that’s OK—you’ve certainly already made some daddy-daughter memories.

13 Fun Father-Daughter Activities to Try
Click to Read