|A long time ago, a football was made out of a pig's bladder.
Nowadays, they're high tech pieces of equipment that are designed to be
precision made, lightweight, durable and multi-sided pieces of modern ingenuity.
A football has four major components: the cover, stitching, the lining
and the bladder. These days, the outer part, or the cover of a football,
is made of synthetic leather. In the 'old days', the cover of the football
used to be made of full-grain leather, but that material absorbed too much
water and the football grew too heavy. The synthetic leather that a football
is made from today are lightweight and water resistant.
Each football is made up of 32 separate pieces, though some designs
use less and some use more. The 32-sided football is the most common and
is used in professional soccer games around the world. Here's where a good
head for math comes in. A football is made up of 20 hexagonal and 12 pentagonal
pieces. The pieces on the football bulge out because of the amount of air
pressure inside the ball. If fewer pieces are used to construct a football,
the ball tends to curve more when airborne, because it's less stable.
The pieces on a football can be stitched or glued together, but the
best footballs are stitched by hand, which gives the football a stronger,
tighter seam. These hand stitched footballs are more expensive than those
that are machine stitched, but they're well worth the extra dollars. The
cheaper football choices are glued, and these footballs are commonly used
for practice sessions.
A lining is found beneath the cover of a football, and in the more expensive
football, several layers of this lining can be found. These layers give
the football added form, bounce and strength. A football used in a professional
match will have four or more layers of lining inside, while a practice
football will have less.
The bladder of a football holds the air. These days, a bladder is not
made from animals, but from latex or butyl. A butyl bladder holds air longer
than a latex one, but latex bladders seem to provide a better surface feel
in a football.
A football is stitched together in a process that begins with cutting
out the pieces piece by piece. Holes are punches around the edges of these
pieces. Then the football pieces are turned inside out so that when finished,
none of the stitches will show on the outside of the football. A different
type of needle is used on these pieces. When finished, the football is
turned right side out and the bladder is placed inside and inflated. One
person might make four footballs a day. After completion, each football
must go through multiple tests and graded for quality and performance.
If a football needs to be used for a professional match, it must undergo
other tests before it ends up on the playing field.