Super Bowl 50 – what the L?

NFL abandons tradition by nixing Roman numerals for 2016 Super Bowl

Finally our long struggle decoding I’s and X’s (and the occasional V) would be over — at least for one year. If Roman numerals were to be used, the 2016 Super Bowl would be one simple letter:  capital L.  But it is not to be:  Super Bowl 50 will be called — well — Super Bowl 50.

Where’s the outrage?

In the world of professional sports, tradition and ritual are plenty important — so I imagine the decision to scrap the Roman numerals was not made lightly.  There’s something kind of grand and — well — Roman about Roman numerals. They help class up the event, giving a gladiator-esque quality to the graphics and the TV commercials.  I imagine there are hard-core Roman numeral enthusiasts out there who are infuriated by this change.  So far, they’re keeping quiet.

Probably more upset are the manufacturers of knock-off NFL apparel and souvenirs who had likely already begun to churn out the merch that they could hawk come February, 2016.  Flea market shoppers:  be on the lookout for bargain Super Bowl “L” sweatshirts, jerseys, boxer shorts, umbrellas, beer coozies …

But wait.  In 2017 it’s back to Super Bowl LI

Really. The NFL is only doing this for one year.  As world issues go, this is pretty far down the list in terms of urgency, but it does seem odd that one game would be titled differently.  Maybe the NFL doesn’t like having a title that sounds a lot like “Super Bowl Hell.”  But when they go back to Roman numerals, will they switch when they get to Super Bowl Licks?  (That’s LIX to you fans of the Roman numerals, 59 to the rest of us).

I suppose the NFL could leap into the digital age and start naming the games with binary code — the 1’s and 0’s that computers understand.  Then the 2016 game would be, I believe, “Super Bowl 110010.”

No matter what system of numerals they go with, it’s going to be an awkward year when Super Bowl 69 rolls around.  Middle school boys will not be able to say that without giggling so hard they squirt milk out of their noses.

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