Which Sports Balls Use Cowhides?
You may be wondering which sports balls use cowhides. While Wilson Football is the official NFL ball maker and has been since 1941, it doesn’t say how many balls are produced per season. However, it does say that the Super Bowl alone requires around 216 balls. Wilson Football also favors cowhide from the Midwest and their Ada, Ohio factory. Regardless of how you feel about the use of cowhides in sporting goods, it’s worth reading about how this material is used in the making of these sports balls.
Cowhides are the leather used for footballs. These hides are harvested from young, lean cows. In the United States, a cow’s hide can produce up to 20 footballs, and about 3000 of them are used annually in the NFL alone. Wilson manufactures over 35,000 footballs a year. Until 1985, the footballs were “naked,” and the NFL’s official supplier of game balls was Wilson Sporting Goods Co.
Cowhides are the material that covers NFL footballs. They are sourced from ranches and laced by hand in a factory in Ada, Ohio. The factory has a dedicated football-making facility, which pumps out 700,000 balls a year. As a matter of fact, cowhide is used to make over half of the ball that plays in the Super Bowl. In addition to cowhide, many other materials are used in the making of footballs.
In an effort to improve the ball’s performance, Wilson is switching from neoprene to cowhide. The changeover is the result of a year-long test to evaluate grip, channel depth, logos, and overall ball performance. Each NBA player touches a basketball designed by Wilson in its facility. While some players have expressed concern, Wilson executives remain confident that the switch will improve the performance of the basketball.
Wilson is committed to providing athletes with quality basketballs that are durable and long-lasting. The company has stayed in touch with the league since the start of the season and has even added a quality-control check to each ball. Every ball has an etched number that corresponds to a spreadsheet that logs its specifications. The result is a ball that is consistent with its quality standard and will last for years to come.
If you’ve ever played baseball, you’ve likely noticed that Wilson baseballs use cowhides as a covering. Cowhides are durable and a great choice for baseballs, and many professional and amateur players swear by them. The cowhide covers are cut from the same cowhide sheets as the baseballs. Approximately five square feet of cowhide are needed to cover one dozen baseballs. Wilson’s cowhide materials are sourced from around the world.
To make Wilson baseballs and softballs, a process called “inside core, cutting cover, sewing cover” takes about a minute and a half. Adding a non-negative constraint would require approximately 500 minutes of cowhide usage per day. Using 960 minutes per day to produce a baseball would be highly inefficient and would likely exceed budgeted costs. However, the non-negative constraint of “time” is a big factor in this manufacturing process.