Friday, February 3, 2012

The NFL’s Looming Crisis with Symbols

Symbolism has a role in social media in ways not a lot of people seem to understand. Whether it’s your avatar picture or your social media account name it’s hard to deny that each individually and collectively carries some symbolism for those who see them.

And in this Super Bowl Weekend if you want to understand the importance of thinking ahead when choosing symbols you need look no further than how the National Football League (NFL) uses numbers for each Super Bowl.

You likely have noticed that this year’s NFL championship is Super Bowl XLVI. That would be the Roman numerals where "XL" equals the modern numeral 40 and "VI" equals the numeral 6. Hence this is the 46th Super Bowl.

But, I wonder, has the NFL looked ahead four years to 2016 when the 50th Super Bowl will take place? That event will have the possibly unfortunate title of "Super Bowl L."

That’s right the letter "L" is the Roman numeral that means the number 50. And, depending on where in the world you’re living, the letter "L" can also mean "loser" or "learner."

Either way, I have to think that sweatshirts, T-shirts, caps and all of the other branded paraphernalia that gets sold around the Super Bowl will not be quite as popular that year.

Which brings me back to the point of symbolism: I’m sure that when the NFL decided to start using Roman numerals to designate Super Bowls in 1971 when the fifth championship was played that the 50th playing of the game seemed a long way off. But now, only four years away from a big "L" of a championship game let’s hope someone at the NFL is thinking about this.

In the meantime have you looked at all your social media presences in terms of the symbolism they may be projecting? Maybe this Super Bowl Weekend is a good time to think about this.

What do you think? Is symbolism part of what establishes your social identity?


  1. They'll probably go with XXXXX so it looks good on the logo even if it's not correct.

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