After the Patriots shellacked the Colts last night, 45-7, allegations surfaced that the Patriots cheated to win by… [drumroll] deflating the footballs. As a deflated football is easier to handle in the rain and 40-mph wind, the Patriots gave themselves an advantage by deflating the ball. (The Colts did not reap any benefit from said deflated football, because they never actually managed to hang onto the ball for more than a millisecond.) The allegations came because the referees were seen weighing the football. Thus was born this bit of awesomeness:
Now that we have the lowbrow humour out of the way, let’s examine this whole premise of weighing a football to determine its internal pressure.
A football holds approximately 4.237 L of air and that air has a mass of approximately 10 grams. The football itself weights approximately 400 grams. The football is inflated to a pressure of between 12.5 and 13.5 psi. The referees inspect about three dozen footballs before the game to determine if they meet regulations. What the #DeflateGate supporters allege, essentially, is that the footballs were underinflated because instead of having a mass of approximately 410 grams, plus/minus 5 grams, the football had a mass of, perhaps, 408 grams.
(I’ll let that one sink in.)
You don’t measure inflation by weight, especially not when that something is wet and has been bouncing around in the mud. You measure inflation of a football the same way you measure the air pressure in your tires: with one of those nifty gauges that tells you the pressure.