The Super Bowl is the single most hyped and watched TV event on the planet. The NFL has the perfect ingredients to appeal to men, women and children: Football, funny and emotional commercials, and a rock star performance at half time.
And one more thing! Roman numerals.
As a result of all the Super Bowls over the years, 300 million Americans, and perhaps billions around the world, have learned their Roman numerals.
Remember Super Bowl XXX? It was almost banned. How about IV? Now that was a real bloodbath; it required extra fluids. Then we had XXXIX, the intellectual game (had to think about that one – it's 39).
Except for the value of a good liberal arts education and being a society of learned people, knowing Roman numerals doesn't have much value today. But thanks to the National Football League, our collective IQ is just a tad-bit higher. I guess it might be a counterweight to the brain damage playing in the NFL has caused its players.
In 2015 we'll be celebrating the 50th Super Bowl. Sadly, the NFL is dropping its use of Roman numerals for one year because of the confusion it would create. Apparently they think our minds cannot stretch to learn one more Roman numeral.
Super Bowl L.
Yes, it's weird. But who among us has thought about the Roman numeral L since elementary school? What a great learning opportunity we're missing. (My memory has faded, but I think I got that question wrong on the SAT.)
There is good news. The NFL has promised to again use Roman numerals for Super Bowl LI. I guess we won't lose this educational moment after all.