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Mashed Pigskin

Hey Matthew Alice:

Every time I see a football game, the kickoff guy always pushes on both ends of the ball before he sets it on the kicking tee, squeezes the living daylights out of it. So what does he thing he's accomplishing? Does he truly think he's changing the physical characteristics of the ball by "moving" air inside of it prior to kicking it? Or is this just a symbolic act, like a baseball player wagging his bat while he waits for the pitch? Does grandma know her physics?

-- Richard Cone, Cardiff

Well, no, but she's been seen in some local watering holes with a retired football coach. Will that do? We asked her to casually slip your question into the conversation some evening. Meanwhile we dialed up Wilson Sporting Goods for their take on the situation. They make the balls used by the NFL.

Would you believe it? We got the same basic explanation from the lounge lizard and the football makers. Ya never know where you'll find an expert. Anyway, according to Wilson, every game begins with a pristine, never-been-fumbled, sparkly new ball. Right out of the box, footballs are stiff. The kicker would like a little more flexibility in the thing, so it's not like kicking a rock. Smashing the ball beforehand accomplishes this. Coach explained that at the point of impact of toe with ball, the football actually folds back a bit over the kicker's toe, which gives him a little better end-over-end control and much better distance once the ball springs off the tee. Mashing the football imparts at least some improved flexibility. Coach also says you'll see this a lot in games played in cold weather, since the temperature stiffens the leather, requiring repeated squashings. So the practice is not voodoo or fantasy football or some sports urban myth or nervous habit. A squashed football is a lively football.

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Hey Matthew Alice:

Every time I see a football game, the kickoff guy always pushes on both ends of the ball before he sets it on the kicking tee, squeezes the living daylights out of it. So what does he thing he's accomplishing? Does he truly think he's changing the physical characteristics of the ball by "moving" air inside of it prior to kicking it? Or is this just a symbolic act, like a baseball player wagging his bat while he waits for the pitch? Does grandma know her physics?

-- Richard Cone, Cardiff

Well, no, but she's been seen in some local watering holes with a retired football coach. Will that do? We asked her to casually slip your question into the conversation some evening. Meanwhile we dialed up Wilson Sporting Goods for their take on the situation. They make the balls used by the NFL.

Would you believe it? We got the same basic explanation from the lounge lizard and the football makers. Ya never know where you'll find an expert. Anyway, according to Wilson, every game begins with a pristine, never-been-fumbled, sparkly new ball. Right out of the box, footballs are stiff. The kicker would like a little more flexibility in the thing, so it's not like kicking a rock. Smashing the ball beforehand accomplishes this. Coach explained that at the point of impact of toe with ball, the football actually folds back a bit over the kicker's toe, which gives him a little better end-over-end control and much better distance once the ball springs off the tee. Mashing the football imparts at least some improved flexibility. Coach also says you'll see this a lot in games played in cold weather, since the temperature stiffens the leather, requiring repeated squashings. So the practice is not voodoo or fantasy football or some sports urban myth or nervous habit. A squashed football is a lively football.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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