Why Is It Called the Super Bowl? A Toy Bouncy Ball Influenced the Event's Name

Allison DeGrushe - Author
By

Feb. 11 2022, Published 1:32 p.m. ET

On Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, more than 100 million individuals nationwide will tune in to NBC to watch the biggest NFL game of all: the Super Bowl. There's nothing quite like the annual showdown — fans huddle in front of their televisions, experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from screaming at the top of their lungs to sobbing on the floor.

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Additionally, there are plenty of opportunities to stuff your face with the most delicious snacks and knock back a drink or two. It's a uniquely American tradition that we hope never fades away.

However, the big game was not always been the spectacle it is today; in fact, it took the NFL a few years to even come up with the term "Super Bowl." If you're curious why it's called the Super Bowl, keep reading to learn more about how the name came to be.

Super Bowl LVI will be played between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams.
Source: Getty Images
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Why is it called the Super Bowl?

The National Football League emerged in 1920, and for four decades straight, the organization successfully defeated several rival clubs; however, by 1960, the NFL encountered its most ambitious competitor in the American Football League.

Eventually, in 1966, the two leagues agreed upon a merger that stated both factions would combine by 1970. As part of the deal, a game was to occur in which each league's best team would compete.

At the time, trying to decide what to call the championship game proved tragic; according to Time Magazine, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle suggested the "Big One" and "Pro Bowl," but those names didn't stick for long. He later proposed the "AFL-NFL World Championship Game," which became the official moniker.

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Though that name was good enough, the late Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt came up with the term "Super Bowl." Sports Illustrated reports Lamar's suggestion was "inspired by his son's 'Super Ball' toy."

Ultimately, the league owners decided on the "AFL-NFL Championship Game," but Lamar's suggestion remained an option. By 1969, the "Super Bowl" became the official title for the third annual game and every subsequent contest.

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What does the "bowl" in Super Bowl mean?

Now that we've cleared up why the biggest NFL game of the year is called the Super Bowl, there's one more question on our minds: What the heck does "bowl" mean in the Super Bowl?

As stated by Dictionary.com, the word bowl began to refer to bowl-like stadiums in the early 1900s.

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"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," reads the Dictionary.com entry.

The 2022 Super Bowl is right around the corner, so who are you rooting for? Will Joe Burrow lead his team to victory? Or, will Matthew Stafford and the Rams prevail due to their home-field advantage?

The Cincinnati Bengals face off against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Feb. 13 on NBC. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. EST.

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