Scooter Hobbs column: Shallow rooting interest

Published 10:05 am Saturday, February 10, 2024

It’s the age-old dilemma for fans.

But you have to watch because it’s the Super Bowl, there’s a neighborhood party and Taylor Swift will probably be there in Las Vegas for the festivities.

I say “probably” not just to sidetrack the narrative, but because there really is a $54 million question about her hoped-for arrival to cheer on her love interest, Travis Kelce, the All-Pro tight end of the Kansas City Chiefs.

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Swift likely did not see the Chiefs’ appearance against the 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII coming, because she booked a concert in Tokyo for the night before the game.

That’s a 12-hour, 8,900- mile flight to get to Las Vegas, for which she will depend on and utilize a $54 million Dassault Falcon 900 business jet, which is the closest any Falcons will make it to the big game this year.

But most of America apparently will be waiting with bated breath to see if she makes it to one of the $2.5 million stadium suites, a sort of new take on the old black-and-white football movies when the star player was kidnapped by bumbling bad guys but somehow escapes to make it to the stadium just in time to spark the big miracle comeback.

Of course, Swift won’t play — so far as we know or so they say, wink-wink — although she does seem to own the NFL this season.

But amidst all this added drama, at some point the Chiefs and 49ers will attempt to play football of some sort, with all the usual Super Bowl hype and commercial breaks, which brings us back to the original conundrum.

Scant few of the nation’s populace have a rooting interest for either the Chiefs or the Niners.

So, on the odd chance you don’t have cash money bet on one or the other — in which case I can’t help you — who do you pull for?

More likely, you’ll be more interested in what “numbers” come up for the score at the end of each quarter, i.e., in relation to the board you bought a square in as part of your retirement plan.

But if you need a team to pull for, I have an alternative solution.

In these delicate situations I always find it simpler, and far more satisfying, to root against one of the teams.

Somehow you also feel less invested should things not go your way or the officials take over the game.

As to which of these two worthy candidates you should suddenly hate, I’ll leave you to your conscience.

Best I can tell, there’s not a lot to dislike there. Both coaches, Frisco’s Kyle Shanahan the Chiefs’ Andy Reid, seem like agreeable sorts, friendly enough folk.

Now, as I understand it, the so-called “Swifties” also play a role here. America seems about equally divided and properly mad at each other. There are those who are sick of hearing about Swift (and would pull for the 49ers just to avoid seeing the inevitable postgame kiss). And there are those who will never get enough of her (and hope to win the prop bet that Travis proposes in the end zone after the victory).

Both are worthy causes to pull against.

But if your lack of rooting interest began when the Saints were eliminated from consideration, I would suggest the 49ers to catch your ire.

You date yourself to a degree, but no Saints fan of a certain age should ever be favoring the San Francisco entry.

Think back to the mid-to-late 1980s when the ever-hapless Aints were gradually creeping their way into respectability, if not quite the Super Bowl.

The NFL’s geography geniuses placed New Orleans in the same NFC West Division as the 49ers. That wouldn’t have been good for anybody, least of all a franchise with such a penchant for unexplained defeat.

The 49ers got all five of their Super Bowl victories in that period between 1985 and 1995 when the Saints weren’t bad, often even kind of good.

But the 49ers always seemed to torture them — only after teasing them.

A fact-checker could probably dispute this, but in my mind every time the Saints played the 49ers back then, twice a year, the Saints would be leading at the 2-minute warning and be a third-and-1 conversion away from salting the game away.

You knew without watching that they weren’t going to pick it up, and then what seemed to be a perfectly nice guys like Joe Montana (or later Steve Young, same difference) would casually lick their fingers and lead a buzzer-beating drive against a Saints’ prevent defense.

But that’s just a suggestion, the best I’ve got for you. Do what you want to do Sunday.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at