During the early stages of the game, a football was only an inflated pig’s bladder. But since then, we have come a long way and today footballs are made using an inflated rubber bladder contained in pebble-grained leather (cowhide). The cow hide is specifically used because of its durability and easy tanning.
A football player will only know too well that football has a bit of uneven shape that causes swift unpredictable bounces. The white laces used to sew on the ball’s surface aids the players to hold and grip the ball. Many attempts to redesign the football more aesthetically have failed. For instance, manufacturers tried to create dimples on footballs but that only enabled the balls to get dirtied and muddied fast making further play difficult.
1. The cowhide selected for making the football is sent for special tanning.
2. The firm and strong part of the hide is cut into a bend and the bend is later die-cut into four different panels.
3. The four panels are refined to precise shape with the aid of a hydraulically-driven clicking machine.
4. The panels are put using a skiving machine to make them conform to a fixed thickness and weight.
5. Each panel is sewn with a synthetic lining comprising of three layers of cross-laid fabric firmly joined together. This is to prevent the panel from losing shape during playtime. In fact, the lining and panel are sewn together in a foolproof manner using an industrial sewing machine.
6. A facing is applied on areas that carry the lacing holes as also the hole for the inflating needle – after which, the holes are then punched.
7. All the four panels are sewn together using a hot-wax lock stitch machine to ensure that make the seams strong and firm to withstand all pressures.
8. A two-ply butyl rubber bladder is then shoved in and the ball is laced and then inflated with a minimum pressure of a 12.5 lb and maximum pressure of 13.5 lb.
9. Finally the ball is subject to a quality check.
10. The ball is branded with the maker’s name and serial number.
For the last sixty decades and more, Wilson Sporting Goods Company, now stationed in Chicago, has been the official maker and supplier for the National Football League (NFL). For all NFL games, the only ball that is approved for use is a Wilson brand ball that is stamped NFL bearing the signature of the League Commissioner – measured to certain specific dimensions and weight and pressure.
Some researches are taking place to improve the quality standards of football for use in prestige tournaments including the World Cup. The contemplated changes are more directed towards using different materials and not so much altering the design. The aim is to create a better feel for the players handling the ball.
Spaulding Sports Worldwide is vigorously preparing a proprietary material to create a new type of composite-covered football. The chief advantage of a composite cover as compared to a leather cover is it will not retain too much water and it will be more weather-proof.
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