Dear Crabby, Why Does the Super Bowl Use Roman Numerals?

Dear Crabby,

Man. I sure thought it was going to be the Detroit Lions year—that we’d finally make a triumphant return to the Super Bowl. I still plan on watching the game, but it won’t be as much fun. Hey. Do you happen to know in why the heck they use Roman numerals?

Sid Sideline

Dear Mr. Sideline,

I know what you mean. If the Chicago Cubs can win a World Series after a 108-year drought, why can’t the Detroit Lions win a Super Bowl? Alas, it just wasn’t meant to be. And it’s funny that you bring up the whole Roman numeral thing. You may recall that last year they went with the number ’50’ instead of the Roman numeral equivalent ‘L.’ Now at first I just thought it was because it was a milestone year, but nope. They didn’t like the way the ‘L’ was going to look. Apparently, they started fretting about what to do back when they were developing the Super Bowl XL logo. A Super Bowl, which if you remember was played at Ford Field in Detroit (so close). Personally, I find it head scratching that those execs thought ‘L’ would look funny on its own, but didn’t seem to be bothered when Super Bowl 30 was Triple-X? Oh-kay. Now I don’t know about you, but we were still being taught Roman numerals in school when I was a kid. Why? I haven’t the foggiest idea, but I remember being taught how to add and subtract the letters to get the right answers. We maybe spent an hour on it and then went to lunch. Teachers always told us that we’d use math in real life, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t talking about Roman numerals. As for why this antiquated system is used for one of the biggest sporting events in the world, it all started at the very first Super Bowl in 1971 after the AFL-NFL merger. Not only did Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt coin the term “Super Bowl,” but he also liked the idea of using Roman numerals as a way to add importance to the event like it did for the Olympics. So, much like the game itself, it’s all about ego. Shocking, right? And now it’s just tradition. It’s always been done that way and we’ll keep doing it that way. Except for last year. Because Super Bowl L somehow looks more ridiculous than Super Bowl XXXIX. I’ll leave it up to you to do the math and figure out which number that is.

So, there you have it. Aren’t you glad you asked?

Enjoy the game and… Restore the Roar!
Dear Crabby

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