Andrew Mather/Kansas City Chiefs via AP

Taylor Swift is ushering in a new sports era, and we’re following her lead

On a random Sunday this past September, I was stationed to get some work completed for my Junior League committee. As an avid football fan, I had my phone close by to keep up with the day’s NFL games. Little did I know that the sports world was going to change that day.

Taylor Swift was spotted in rumored beau and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s suite alongside his mother and entourage. Suddenly, I couldn’t focus. The media went wild. The NFL went insane. And I, for one, was thrilled.

I’m a devoted Swiftie. But there was more to my giddiness over seeing Taylor there, sporting her Kansas City Chiefs jacket and eating “seemingly ranch.” I wasn’t just happy as a Swiftie. I was happy as a lifelong sports fan and co-host of sports-focused podcast Sports and Mimosas because finally, other audiences (mainly women) were tuning in with a new interest in what was happening on the field. That game was the start of something—an era, if you will.

It’s no secret that LSU football is a way of life in Baton Rouge. Once the season wraps, we start the countdown for the next home game in Tiger Stadium. But aside from Jayden Daniel’s Heisman-winning performance, this past football season has many people looking for sports entertainment elsewhere. Lucky for those of us, we have plenty to keep us entertained until next year’s kickoff. Here are three local teams to follow in the meantime.

LSU Women’s Basketball

With LSU women’s basketball coming off a national championship win (a game that garnered a viewership of 9.9 million), all eyes are on this year’s team to see if they will repeat. And the early season drama isn’t casting away any attention. Angel Reese (last season’s MVP) missed four games with little to no explanation from Coach Kim Mulkey. Yet, the Lady Tigers maintained a solid winning streak without their star. Much credit can be given to the offseason moves by Mulkey and her team with the addition of standout freshman Mikaylah Williams and two transfers Haley Van Lith (Louisville) and Aneesah Morrow (DePaul). Reese reemerged in late November, but there are still whispers of what’s happening in the locker room. If you’re looking for drama and female athletes setting record numbers, the Lady Tigers 2023-2024 season is for you.

Baton Rouge Zydeco

I’m sure you have heard the news that hockey is back in Baton Rouge with the Baton Rouge Zydeco. Full disclosure, I know nothing about hockey. I’ve watched a few movies, and I missed out on the Kingfish days. However, from what I hear, the Zydeco bring back Kingfish vibes, which is an overall win for Baton Rouge. Although the team’s beginning record shows their age, as the season has progressed, so has the Zydeco’s rhythm and excitement.

With the mid-year coaching change to interim head coach MJ Graham, a veteran to the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL), there’s every reason to believe things are just getting started. The team will spend all of January on the road but return home in late February with games running until April. I may be speaking for myself, but I think we can all get behind a sport that allows players to fight without silly yellow flags being thrown.

LSU Gymnastics

As the younger sister to a gymnast, many of my childhood weekends were spent traveling to gym meets and watching girls swing from bars, balance on beams, and dance on floors. It’s one of the most exciting sports, and the LSU gymnastics team takes the entertainment to the next level. Not only did the LSU gymnastics season tickets sell out this year (the first time in program history), but they kept busy during the offseason to set the stage for an epic season. One of the standout faces of the team is Olivia “Livvy” Dunne, whose story of social media fame helped catapult the gymnast to be the highest-ranked female athlete in the NCAA for NIL deals. There’s also a new face in the locker room this year with grad transfer Savannah Schoenherr. Making the move from the University of Florida, Schoenherr is accustomed to SEC-level gymnastics. After having to sit out her last season at Florida due to injury, everyone will be watching her comeback story unfold. The Tigers are eyeing a national championship, and plenty of people will be there cheering them on.

With these three sports occupying the calendar until mid-summer, there’s no excuse to let your sports era end before Taylor and Travis do. Just kidding, I want their relationship to last just as much as I want this renewed interest in sports to keep gaining momentum.