Whether you enjoy watching the body tackling sport or commercials at half-time, football is one of the most lucrative and viewed sports in the professional arena. And that was before Taylor Swift found romance in the arms of number 87, Travis Kelce. There’s no mystery as to why, though. It’s entertaining in many ways but also inspirational — especially for a certain writing/reading demographic. This week’s Crazy Book Genre series is taking a closer look at the subgenre Football Romance. Let’s team up to see what this genre holds in store.
Football Romance — History, Tropes, and Themes
This has been a popular romance theme since the early 2000s. However, an explosion in sales has occurred this past year with the Princess of Pop’s official exclamation that she’s involved in a romantic relationship with accomplished Kansas City Chiefs Tight End. Thank you, Tay-Tay, for bringing more attention to this genre; the authors and readers are excited to have more people to share their love with.
While there’s surely a connotation of heterosexuality and toxic or barbaric masculinity that follows the physically challenging sport, there’s certainly no lack of diversity in the books. Santino Hassel’s Illegal Contact is a swoon-worthy MM romance where one bad boy player slowly falls for his PA-turned-behavior-babysitter.
Adding to the diversity and playfulness of the team sport is a plethora of why choose novels centered around one female protagonist and several football player MMCs. We’re here for the polyamory! Set in the football capital of Texas, Hail Mary by Cassie Cole is a HEA football romance where one reporter gets close to three teammates on and off the field.
These novels aren’t just centered around professional football players either. We know our romance book lovers are all about variety, so have no fear. There are many academic football romances to go around. Mason by Leila James is a college bully romance if you’re looking for a darker-themed read. Extra bonus: it’s also a why choose.
As with most romance, football-centered stories run the gauntlet of tropes. Most popular are fake dating, forced proximity, enemies to lovers, and marriage of convenience. There’s even the family-member best friend trope, which happens often, like in Kristen Callihan’s The Game Plan, where Fiona’s brother-in-law’s best friend is star player Ethn Dexter. She really couldn’t care less about his career, but he wants her to care about him more than the guy who comes to her sister’s family functions.
Coming in with the fake dating trope is Blind Side by Kandi Steiner. A college football MVP and the PR coordinator become entangled when he has a bad breakup, and she can’t keep it together in front of a crush. They agree to fake date; he gets to save face, and she gets to lose her cherry and nervousness.
The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata
Van is the personal assistant to one of the most prolific football stars in the professional league. But his attitude and ungrateful behavior has finally gotten the best of her, and she quits. She’s astonished when he shows up one day at her door, emotionally open and vulnerable, a state she’s never seen before, begging her to return. The catch: he needs her to fill a role far more personal than an assistant.
Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
What would you do if you inherited a football team? That’s what happened to Phoebe Somerville. New York socialite Phoebe inherits the Chicago Stars football team, and unfortunately, that comes with alpha-hole head coach Dan Calebow. Phillips creates a love-to-hate and hate-to-love him male protagonist in this enemies-to-lovers novel that checks all the right boxes.
Want more crazy book genres of men in uniform? Check out Police Romance here.