football originated from a game called rugby. That is where the shape of the football came from.
Pete is right that the shape of our football comes from the shape of of the rugby ball. So the next question is how did the rugby ball get its shape.
The Rugby Ball and its oval shape did not come about because the ball needed to be handled during a rugby game.
The Rugby Ball shape was dictated by the pig's bladder that was inserted into a hand stitched leather casing which was used as the ball.
It was only much later that rubber gained popularity and replaced the pigs bladder. In those early days it was necessary to ask for "volunteers" to inflate the ball for it was not a job that was sought after.
The pigs bladder would be blown up while still in its very smelly ��green state'' solely by lung power down the stem of a clay pipe which was inserted into the opening of the bladder.
In the 1880s the rugby ball was produced by manufacturers and described as oval, about eleven inches long, about nine inches across.
'It is light, hard-blown, of indiarubber, covered with a leather case, very accurately fitting, made in equal pieces cut in the long axis of the ball, smoothly and strongly sewn together.'
'In the centre four inches of one seam is a slit, through which the indiarubber bladder has been passed into the case. This slit has been very accurately laced up, and care has been taken to leave no tag of lacing hanging.'
The Rugby Ball was originally much rounder and larger than it is today. Some even had a lace handle on the top to hold it!
Soccer balls were rounder. Eventually manufacturers could produce a perfectly round ball, allowing soccer players to have far greater kicking control of the ball on the ground.
obviously it is shaped that way so that you cannot predict its movement on the ground, yet it is aerodynamic when thrown properly.
The "pig bladder" story is a bit of misunderstood history. Consider that early soccer balls also used pig bladders, but those balls remained generally round in shape. The shape of the bladders was unpredictable, but they were generally spherical. The rugby ball gradually flattened out because that made it easier for handling, carrying, and passing by hand.
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