I was so completely disgusted by the nonsense being spouted by the reporters on sports radio regarding the inflation of footballs that I vowed to listen to no sports radio until the Superbowl. However the ridiculous hubbub can’t be escaped so easily. Even when I tried to escape into the world of weather maps, I discovered both of my favorite meteorologists, Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo, had posted on the topic of “inflategate”.
Interestingly, they both brought up, in a far more scientific manner than I am capable of, what I brought up in my post: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/meteorological-explanation-belichick-deflation-psychological-explanation-reporters-inflation/
I simply stated that I’d noticed that the balls on my Childcare playground lost pressure when they got cold, and regained it when the were warmed again. No one was removing air or adding air. I stated reporters ought do a bit of research, rather than leaping to conclusions.
Joseph D’Aleo did far better, by quoting someone from:
Science teacher here. Given the conditions of the game, a ball which meets specifications in the locker room could easily lose enough pressure to be considered under-inflated. Some math:
- Guy-Lussac’s Law describes the relationship between the pressure of a confined ideal gas and its temperature. For the sake of argument, we will assume that the football is a rigid enough container (unless a ball is massively deflated, it’s volume won’t change). The relationship is (P1/T1) = (P2/T2), where P is the pressure and T is the temperature in Kelvins.
- The balls are inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 psi at a temperature of 70 degrees Farenheit (294.1 K). Let’s assume an average ball has a gauge pressure of 13 psi. This makes the absolute pressure of the ball 27.7 psi (gauge + atmosphere). Since these are initial values, we will call them P1 and T1.
- The game time temperature was 49 degrees F (278 K). We are attempting to solve for the new pressure at this temperature, P2. We plug everything into the equation and get (27.7/294.1) = (P2/278). At the game time temperature, the balls would have an absolute pressure of 26.2 psi and a gauge pressure of 11.5, below league specifications.
*Furthermore, given that it was raining all day, the air in the stadium was saturated with water vapor. At 70 degrees, water has a vapor pressure of 0.38 psi. The total pressure of the ball is equal to the pressure of the air inside the ball and the vaporized water in the ball. At 49 degrees, the vapor pressure of water is 0.13 psi. Up to 0.25 additional psi can be lost if the balls were inflated by either the team or the refs prior to the game. Granted, it’s unlikely that anyone would inflate balls from 0, but it easily could cost another couple hundredths of a psi in pressure.
- For a ball that barely meets specifications (12.5 psi gauge), it’s pressure would drop to 11.1 psi during the game… enough to be considered massively underinflated.
(The discussion proceeds from there, and makes for some interesting reading. However most sports reporters didn’t even consider this possibility. They leaped to the conclusion air had to have been removed from the ball.)
The stupidity of the reporters is emphasized by their conclusion that the balls were weighed, rather than the air pressure measured. Some actually thought a football weighed 12.5 pounds, but Tom Brady was throwing balls that only weighed 10.5 pounds, (when in all likelihood the balls he threw were rain-drenched and made heavier, though not pounds heavier)
How could reporters be so stupid? It takes no brains to hoist a ten pound weight in a weight room, and know it weighs more than a football. (I assume sports reporters spend some time in weight rooms, even if they themselves don’t exercise.) It seems even the logic of personal experience went into abeyance.
Another thing I’ve seen through personal experience involves water condensing inside a ball. I notice this at my Childcare when we blow up balloons. The water vapor in breath, (which you notice making puffs of steam on winter mornings when you breathe out), can form drops on the inside of the balloon on cool days. I imagine air made steamy from hot showers in a locker room might do the same thing, inside a football, as a football cooled. This would cause another drop in pressure, (and is what clamps the lids of canning jars down, if you happen to be a person who cans vegetables, but I don’t suppose sports reporters do that.)
In any case, there are plenty of things that can cause a football’s pressure to drop, without anyone releasing any air. The question then becomes, “Was this done intentionally?”
Another question might be, “Even if it was done intentionally, is it illegal?” After all, if the balls pass muster, they have passed muster, haven’t they? Until the rules are written to specifically ban balls that lose pressure as they cool, one could conceivably fill a ball with hot steam, so they were at 12.5 psi when passing muster, but flat as a pancake when they reached the field, and they still would be legal.
I wish Belichick or Brady had said that. Oh, the howling that would have ensued! People dislike the fact that, when people strive for excellence, they test the rules as they test the limits. However I think it goes further. People, especially underachievers, just plain dislike overachievers.
For example, in the hysteria about the inflation or deflation of footballs, everyone assumes it helped Brady throw better. The actual data shows he threw worse with the under-inflated balls, including an interception. Therefore, if one is going to leap to the conclusion conspiracy was involved, why not leap to the conclusion someone was attempting to sabotage Brady’s ability to throw? Why not imagine some sinister gambler bribing the ball boy to fill the balls with hot, moist air?
Why not? Because it doesn’t fulfill the childish need some have to belittle excellence:
As I have watched this “deflategate” stupidity play out, I can’t help but think I am actually watching a bunch of bad losers. I’ve tried to watch it from afar, but it seems to be wherever I turn. People seem to have grown up in a cushy America where everyone gets trophies at award ceremonies, so no ones feelings will be hurt, and therefore people have developed no resistance to loss, and have no resiliency, and simply can’t stand it, and must savage those who win.
If you can’t stand loss then you can’t stand life. Life is full of loss. This is especially obvious as you get older, and dear friends pass away. However that does not diminish the beauty of the gift life is, nor erase the real reason for living.
What is the real reason for living? Well, I am not going to launch into that sermon, tonight. However I will say that both Belichick and Brady know all about losing. Hasn’t anyone noticed they have gone a while without winning a Superbowl? It hasn’t stopped them from pressing on, or seeking to excel. Nor have I heard them screech at the people who have beat them, “You cheated!”
Losing is a part of the game, and if you can’t take it you shouldn’t get involved. This is something I teach the children at my Childcare. When we eat a carrot I make sure they know a carrot lost its life, and when we roast pork over the fire I make sure they remember the pig. However the clearest example of losing I can give them involves the game of checkers.
Though my Childcare emphasizes the outdoors, sometimes the weather is so awful we stay in, and sometimes I teach the little ones to play the game of checkers. Usually I teach them to play each other, but quite often they want to play me. If I can’t avoid it, I play them, and beat them.
Admittedly a shred of egotism may be involved in the fact I remain undefeated, when it comes to playing checkers with children under age seven, (through there have been some mighty close calls), for I am seldom a winner in other areas of my life. However my aim is to counter the belief that children should always be encouraged by sheltering them from the fact life involves loss.
Loss hurts, but so does skinning your knee. I don’t think childhood should be bubble-wrapped, and think skinned knees are part of a healthy childhood. As is the pain of losing.
Sometimes, as I inform a child I have just beaten them at checkers, they turn their innocent face up to mine, and it winces with the pain of loss, and twists to rage, and they yell at me, “You Cheated!”
What do I then tell them?
Oh for goodness sake! You are not a five-year-old! If you don’t know the answer to that, you need to stop and do some thinking.
That is what I think a lot of Americans need to now do. Too little of “escapegate” involves rational thought, and too much involves the mentality of a witch hunt. It likely should be renamed “hategate.”
People need to take a hard look in the mirror, and understand where this sort of hysteria leads. It led to six million Jews dead. It led to Jesus crucified.
Not that Brady and Belichick are saints, but I have noticed something. It is not the people who have struggled through many losses to excel at something who are screeching Brady and Belichick should be punished. Rather it is the losers.
Losers need to know it is OK to lose, and also that the escape is to admire and emulate the winners. It does not make a loser better to attack those who are better.