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How Footballs Are Made

Football is a variation of English rugby, right? Yes...and no. Football as we know it now, had its roots in the English turf, but kicking games have been around for centuries. From China in 200B.C. through Italy in the 15th century, men love to kick things around, although often the object was whatever came in handy.

English rugby balls were first made from a pig's bladder, which was inflated by sticking a pipe in the "exit", and blowing it up while it was still freshly removed from the pig. After drying, it was covered in layers of cowhide, and there was your ball to kick around. Then one day, a rugby player got tired of kicking at the ball, picked it up and ran. And so a new game was born, and taken to heart in America.

And yes, footballs at one time were made of pigskin. The surface of the ball today, still mimics the natural condition of a pig's skin, once the hair is removed. Hair follicles on pigs grow in an almost triangular pattern, thus creating the "pitting" of the ball's surface, when the hairs are removed. The pigskin was then wrapped around the pig's bladder, and off it went to the game.

Today's football has come quite a way from the pigpen to the barnyard, with leather now replacing the pigskin, and an artificial rubber bladder replacing the pig's. The bladder is inflated to a pressure of 12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch, and is then covered in four panels of leather stitched together, with leather lacing down one side for added grip to aid in passing.