Super Bowl LI kicks off Sunday night, but you might know it better as the Big Game. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
talking up some large athletic event that will take place this Sunday known only as БThe Big Game. Б The accompanying graphics indicate football will be played, but it canБt be the Super Bowl. Otherwise, advertisers would just call it that, right? Wrong! The National Football LeagueБs championship is unique not only in its enormous television audience ( ), but in the NFLБs quest to control the name БSuper Bowl,Б as well. You can see this in any ad linking an unrelated company to the game, whether itБs Best Buy ( ) suggesting that having the burrito chain cater your SuperБ I mean, Big Game party is БAlways A Good Call. Б This shyness also surfaces in press releases, whose longer form lets you see other obvious vocabulary vanish. Workers attach a sign to the front of NRG Stadium as preparations continue for the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game. (AP) Consider, for instance, an AT T ( (it uses БBig GameБ in quotes, as if it is a novel phrase) and a Sprint ( bandwidth. Neither include the abbreviation БNFLБ or the teams in the Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots. Yet if you click over to the next release on SprintБs PR page, youБll see a headline touting its Super Bowl ad as, yup, a Б Super Bowl LI Commercial. Б Remember, Super Bowl advertisers pay for their publicity.
For about the 258 millionth time in pro sports, itБs about money Б what the NFL can make by licensing its trademarks, and what it can lose by letting other businesses use them for free. БThey have one of the most powerful brands, and one of the most valuable brands in existence,Б said Kevin Goldberg, a lawyer with in Arlington, Va. , which specializes in intellectual property. Putting that two-word phrase in an ad Б or, perhaps, a headline Б can get peopleБs attention. ). Commercial use doesnБt get the same latitude under trademark law. БThere are a lot of companies that pay an exorbitant amount of money to have an association with the Super Bowl,Б said Antigone Peyton, CEO of the Mclean, Va. , intellectual-property-focused firm. Companies that try to leverage this brand without paying can expect a nastygram, if not an actual lawsuit. We reached out to the NFL asking for comment, but did not receive a response. This is distinct from everyday trademark defense, in which companies try to stop people from using brand names for other products. Letting that happen invites a court to rule that the trademark has, leaving its value in a dumpster. Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Craig Cummings listens during a news conference about security preparations for the Super Bowl. (AP) Goldberg and Peyton said other sports leagues Б as well as the International Olympic Committee Б can be equally protective of team and championship names.
But the NFL also tries to quash commercial uses of words and phrases that only overlap its trademarks. Compared to other U. S. pro sports leagues, Peyton called the NFL Бthe most aggressiveБ and Goldberg said it was Бclearly the most activeБ about policing its intellectual property. Most notoriously, the NFL tried to trademark БBig GameБ but after Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley objected. Both use that name for that predates the NFLБs founding by 28 years. That same year, the NFL in a 2014 show mocking pro footballБs moniker micromanagement. In 2010, the NFL tried to claim ownership of the New Orleans Saints catchphrase БWho Dat? Б but. (Peyton, Fleurty Girl, that sold shirts with that phrase. ) In 2013, the months before San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh met in the Super Bowl. The fan surrendered the trademark. You can look at all of this and retreat into bitterness, decrying this trademark tyranny as yet another example of the obsessive image consciousness. See also: last yearБs. But letБs try to think positively. Here we have a chance for Patriots and Falcons fans to find one thing to agree on in this deeply divided time Б they have one more reason to dislike NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. at rob@robpegoraro. com; follow him on Twitter at. The Super Bowl is without a doubt one of the biggest sporting events in the world (World Cup fans, feel free to weigh in here), and an unofficial national holiday in the United States.
But, do you know how the Super Bowl got its name? It may (or may not) be related to a toy ball. How did the super bowl get its name? In the 1960s, pro football was split into two leagues, the established NFL and the newly-formed AFL (American Football League). PEventually, they would merge, and a competitive game for the title of best in the NFL was a byproduct of the merger. When the league tried to come up with a game name, Time. com says World Series of Football, The Big One, and Pro Bowl were considered. But, the first one was a copy of Major League Baseball, and Pro Bowl would have conflicted with the annual NFL all-star game. The first best-of-the-best game between the Packers and Chiefs in January, 1967 ended up carrying the rather straightforward name of AFL-NFL Championship Game. Catchy? No. The next two games after used the rather bland World Championship Game name. The Atlantic mentions the legend that Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt coined the term Super Bowl after his daughter s toy Super Ball. But, newspapers were already using the term Super Bowl for the championship game well before the first Super Bowl game was played, so believe what you want. Bottom line: AFL-NFL Championship Sunday is not nearly as catchy as Super Bowl Sunday.
And, in the NFL, marketing is everything. What does theP bowlP in super bowl mean?. In the early 1900 s, bowl began to be used to described bowl-like stadiums. The first of these stadiums was built for Yale in 1914 and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena was soon to follow. Soon enough, football games held in similarly-designed stadiums were called bowl games. Why do the super bowl games have roman numerals? Well, the powers that be tacked on the roman numerals to the end of Super Bowl to distinguish the games from each other. However, since there were already four games before the official first Super Bowl, it started at Super Bowl 5. Er, V. The only Super Bowl game to not use roman numerals was Super Bowl 50. The roman numeral for 50 is L, and because NFL ad designers couldn t do anything with an L logo (in fact it looks like a typo), they used the number 50. Now, we re back to roman numerals for the foreseeable future. PChris Chase of USA Today summed it up: Foregoing the use of Super Bowl L drew some early criticism that the league was dumbing things down for America, as if clinging to an archaic counting system that was obviously created without any foresight means were a nation of dunces. Thats nonsense. Roman numerals are like cursive: meaningless in the real world and not as pretty to look at as people think. Do you have a soft spot for roman numerals? If you think you know your V s from your I s, take ourP!