Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What the "L" NFL ?

The National Football League is taking a hiatus on its classical finish to a season in 2016. Since 1971, the NFL championship game known the world over as the  Super Bowl has been marked by Roman Numerals.  However, when the Super Bowl is played at the San Francisco Giant's new stadium in Santa Clara, California on February 7, 2016, the game will be marketed as Super Bowl 50.

The reason for the change is neither Common Core compliance nor a concession to fans struggling with concussions.  The reason is purely aesthetic.  Keith Bruce, the president of the San Francisco Bay Area Host Committee, lobbied for a change from the "L" as it was time.  However, there is also speculation that contemporary audiences may equate the "L" with Loser.

For it's part, Jaime Weston, the NFL Vice President of Brand and Creative, noted that her team had tried 73 different versions of the Super Bowl 50 logo but could not find a design which was pleasing to the eye.

The NFL will market two types of logos for Super Bowl 50. Both will feature the Arabic Numerals "50" in gold, as a nod to Northern California's history when James Wilson Marshall striking gold at Sutter's Mill in 1849 and sparked a gold rush of prospectors to the Golden State. 

Both the national and the regional logos will feature the Lombardi Trophy.  The regional logo will also include Bay area landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, the TransAmerica tower as well as Levi's Stadium.

While Latin teachers and classic scholars may be dismayed at migrating away from Roman numerals, it should be noted that traditions associated with the Big Game have evolved over time.  The championship game was not even called "The Super Bowl" until its third iteration.  In fact, the NFL did not even trademark "The Super Bowl" for a few months afterwards. The touch of the Roman Numerals followed in 1971.

The NFL insists that this will be a one year hiatus, and that it will return in 2017 for Super Bowl LI.  If it is true that NFL branding was worried about unfortunate associations with the big "L", what will they do in 2025, which it is Super Bowl LIX?

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