3 Super Bowl Fun Facts

Want to amaze your friends at that Super Bowl party you're going to? All you have to do is hit 'em with some Super Bowl math fun facts. Keep on reading to learn what they are!

Jason Marshall, PhD
4-minute read
Episode #184

Football fieldAlthough most of us don't spend much time thinking about math during the Super Bowl, the truth is that the big game is full of it. This shouldn't come as a surprise since, as we've discovered over and over again, math is always all around us…if we take the time to see it.

While there are no doubt dozens of good mathematical questions that might come to mind while watching the Super Bowl, today we're going to talk about 3 of them:

  1. Why is the phrase "Super Bowl" always accompanied by a Roman numeral?

  2. Does the coin toss that takes place before the Super Bowl actually matter?

  3. Are there any impossible Super Bowl scores?

So go ahead and put on your favorite team's jersey, start limbering up, and stay tuned to arm yourself with a few festive math fun facts that you can throw around at the Super Bowl party you're heading to this weekend!.

Super Bowls and Roman Numerals

On Sunday, February 2, 2014, the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will be playing each other in Super Bowl XLVIII—aka, Super Bowl 48. Yes, in case you didn't know it, the Roman numerals that you always see after the phrase "Super Bowl" are there to indicate that this is the 48th such big game to take place in the history of the National Football League (the first was in 1967).

Why the Roman numerals? Well, for one thing, the NFL season spans two calendar years (the current season started in 2013 and is ending in 2014), and a while back when all of this was being sorted out people (or marketers) didn't think that "Super Bowl 2013-2014" sounded too snazzy. So, they instead decided to append Roman numerals and embrace the sprinkle of fancy they brought with them.

Couldn't they have used modern numerals like 48 for the Super Bowl?

But still, why Roman numerals? Couldn't they have used modern numerals like 48 for the Super Bowl? Well, besides the bit of fanciness I mentioned earlier, yes, they could have. And apparently they may soon be doing exactly that—or at least they may be ditching the Roman numerals. 

Why? Well, in two years the NFL will be celebrating its 50th season, a season which will culminate with the playing of Super Bowl…wait for it…L. Yes, that's right, the Roman numeral for 50 is "L," and some people are a bit concerned about how that lonely "L" is going to look on T-shirts and whatnot—as well as its connection to the word "loser"—so a change could well be in store. We'll know soon enough!

Now, on to the coin toss.


About the Author

Jason Marshall, PhD

Jason Marshall is the author of The Math Dude's Quick and Dirty Guide to Algebra. He provides clear explanations of math terms and principles, and his simple tricks for solving basic algebra problems will have even the most math-phobic person looking forward to working out whatever math problem comes their way.