As the national conversation builds to a fever pitch over this Sunday’s championship NFL game, maybe you’ve noticed this little oddity in radio and television commercials: the stilted, decidedly-awkward manner in which advertisers must refer–or more precisely NOT refer–to the Super Bowl as “the Super Bowl.” Because unless you are all paid up as an officially-licensed affiliate, you can not utter those two words in any commercial capacity. That’s why so many radio ads refer to this weekend’s contest as “the Big game.” Get a TV for “the Big Game,” order in some pizzas for “the Big Game,” drink yourself into a puddle during “the Big Game.”
I guess it makes sense. And I guess I understand. The NFL trademarked the phrase, but given how the general public’s television viewership built this league and our tax dollars underwrote their stadiums, this kind of verbal parsing seems a bit precious.
At this point, those two words should be public domain. This Sunday is all but a national Holiday (and would be if the NFL played more games on Mondays). “Super Bowl” has entered the native lexicon–legislating this phrase into private property doesn’t make sense. If someone mentions the Super Bowl as an ideal occasion to enjoy some product, that seems like free publicity.
And goodness knows this event could use a bit of hype…