Today's Tidbit... Footballs of Different Stripes
When football was played only in daylight, everyone on the field could see the tan ball, but things changed under less than optimal light. Starting around 1900, teams practicing late in the afternoon and those using artificial light sometimes covered the ball with white or luminous paint. White or yellow balls became popular for night games starting in the 1920s.
The 1950s saw the introduction of striped footballs. The National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations required a tan ball with two white stripes beginning in 1953 while continuing to allow the use of white or yellow footballs for night games. Meanwhile, the NFL dropped the white ball for night games in 1956, substituting a tan ball with white stripes encircling the ball a few inches from either end.
As with many aspects of football, the specific striping choices varied a bit before settling into the consistent pattern we know today. For example, the stripes on some footballs were closer to the center of the ball than those today.
In addition to the difference in the spacing of the stripes, some white and some tan balls also had two stripes per side rather than one.
The NFL dropped the striped ball in 1976, while the NCAA officially permitted the striped ball in 1965 and required it in 1975.
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