Super Bowl XLVI? Kids Have No Idea What That Means
Roman numerals don't translate quite as easily for this generation
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2012 8:52 AM CST
Eli Manning hopes to win the 46th Super Bowl.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Quick, how many Super Bowls have we had if this year's is XLVI? You may be able to come up with an answer off the top of your head, but most modern-day kids have no idea that XLVI translates to 46—even if they know what one or two of the Roman numerals, like X or I, mean by themselves. Nowadays, Roman numerals "only ever get used for things like copyrights or sporting events," one mom tells AP, "which in my humble opinion harkens even further back to the gladiatorial barbaric nature of things like the Super Bowl."

Schools only teach the extreme basics of the Roman system these days, the AP notes, which means that math-centric websites like Numericana.com get a lot of hits on Super Bowl Sunday by fans attempting to decipher the Roman numerals; last year, Numericana.com actually crashed. The tradition of using Roman numerals began with Super Bowl V in 1971, and back then the simpler numerals were easier to figure out. Why not just switch to No. 46? "It just kind of sounds like an inventory. 'Inspected by Joe,'" says an NFL historian. "Those Roman numerals, they're almost like trophies." The Kansas City Chiefs historian agrees: "It's much more magisterial." (Click to see why the forthcoming "Super Bowl L" poses a few problems.)

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Showing 3 of 35 comments
plain_speaking
Feb 5, 2012 7:55 AM CST
Ok then parents...fill in the gaps of public education and take the 5 minutes needed to teach your kids roman numerals....and take an other five and explain binary to them....most ten year olds can grasp these things once shown...just because you send your kid to school doesn't mean you stop teaching them things...parent are the first and most important teacher in a child's life.....keep teaching
winterfairy
Feb 5, 2012 5:18 AM CST
Roman Numerals have nothing to with sex except for LXIX, so the little animals just ignore it.
ExceleRater
Feb 4, 2012 7:07 PM CST
There are a lot of kids today that don't know what "46" means. Drop out rates in some schools now exceed 50%.