American football league the NFL has opted to switch from its traditional method of using Roman numerals to identify its showpiece Super Bowl by rebranding the 2016 game as Super Bowl 50.
The league has utilised Roman numerals to identify the Super Bowl since its fifth edition, which featured the Baltimore Colts defeating the Dallas Cowboys in January 1971. The 50th edition of the Super Bowl is due to take place on February 7, 2016 at Levi’s Stadium – the new home of the San Francisco 49ers that opens this summer.
The Roman numeral designation for this game would have been Super Bowl L. Reports suggest that the NFL has decided against utilising this brand as it is not as pleasing to the eye as 50, while the fact that ‘L’ has become a near-universal hand signal for ‘loser’ may also have influenced the league.
However, the NFL said it has made the switch purely to further “elevate and celebrate” the historic 50th Super Bowl. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Reuters news agency: “If 'L' was the Roman numeral for (Super Bowls) 49 or 59, we wouldn't have done this, but because it is a historic milestone we made the change. We could have made it work, but the concept was to elevate and celebrate America's favourite event with an interesting twist on a tradition unique to the NFL.”
The NFL will return to Roman numerals for Super Bowl LI, slated for February 2017 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.