The stripes make the ball easier to pick up in flight therefore easier to catch. This is the reason the NFL does not have stripes making it more difficult for the professionals to catch the ball.
At one time, pro footballs were striped all the way around, but now the pro ball has no stripes at all. The stripes on a college ball are only on the top half of the ball (the half with the laces) and have no meaning in todays game. The stripes are kept as a part of college football tradition. They were once thought to be a visual aid in quickly pointing the laces outward in field goal situations.
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