It was LVII years ago, but it seems like yesterday.
Elementary school. Grade IV. Nuns teaching Roman numerals. Teaching method was by rote, and we're not talking about Tobin Rote, the only quarterback who started on an NFL (MCMLVII) and AFL
(MCMLXIII) championship team. No, rote here means repetition, repetition, and more repetition.
Written and verbal. A kazillion times.
Or at least MMMCMXCIX times. Resistance is futile. You learn by rote, you never forget.
A smart aleck asks the nuns why bother learning Roman numerals? Why bother learning something that we'll never ever find useful?
If only the nuns had an answer other than smacking the smart aleck's knuckles with a ruler. If only the nuns had a vision of the future, a vision of the Promised Land, aka the Super Bowl, that included media saturation for a game with equal parts grace and ugliness, brotherhood and brutality.
The NFL insists on designating each year's Super Bowl in Roman numerals. Not sure why, other than pretentiousness. Not sure why the sports media play along, considering it's difficult to imagine average pro football fans recalling or referring to championship games in Roman numerals.
“Hey, Charlie, what's the best Super Bowl ever?”
“Oh, I'd have to say it was Super Bowl XLII.”
“Really? Have to disagree with you there, pal. Super Bowl XLVII was a classic. Except for that power outage that stopped play for XXXIV minutes. That was just X%$#@! inexcusable.”
The association with Roman anything is troubling: Roman Empire (decadence), Roman Colosseum (Christians vs. lions, and not the ones from Detroit), Roman emperors (despotic whack jobs), Roman vomitoria (ew, gross), Roman orgies (pagan perverts), Roman Gabriel (no Super Bowl appearances), Greg Roman (one Super Bowl appearance, one loss), Bill Romanowski (OK, four Super Bowl championship rings, but long associated with performance-enhancing drugs, not to mention a reputation for, shall we say, unsportsmanlike conduct).