Roman Numerals and that Big Game on Sunday ~ A Different Spin

Every year I get more and more bored with the apparently obligatory rants from sports writers about the use of Roman numerals in regards to the Super Bowl (to say nothing of my annual conversation with mater in which I have to reteach her how Roman numerals work, but that’s different). And so, after paging through myriad exempla of such schoolboy rhetoric, I have to tip my pileus to Ben Cohen at the Wall Street Journal, who actually came up with something original to say on this … here’s the incipit:

The NFL is four years away from its 50th Super Bowl, which means it is already trying to plan around a peculiar self-inflicted marketing nuisance: How can the world’s most powerful sports league get around putting a big, fat “L” on hundreds of thousands of souvenir T-shirts?

The first thing the winning players will do when Sunday’s game ends is drape themselves in celebratory gear emblazoned with the Super Bowl logo. This year, that logo consists of the Lombardi Trophy above the silver Roman numerals XLVI.

But come 2016, the Roman numeral for Super Bowl L happens to be the lone letter that most connotes losing.

“Wouldn’t that be a nice time to switch over to Arabic numerals?” said Bob Dorfman, the executive creative director for Baker Street Advertising.

… alas, I strongly suspect that might be the year the Roman numerals disappear, although one really should think of the marketability of champions’ hats with the L emblazoned on it, thus saving the winners the effort of making that ‘L’ gesture with their hands towards the team that came in second place (which is something the rest of the article almost reaches, but not quite).

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