Leather Used In Sports
Sporting good equipment manufacturers use leather because it adapts to the unique requirements of each product. Various tanning and mechanical processing technique make this possible, hide selection criteria and manufacturing process for producing baseballs, cricket balls, and softball leathers, baseball glove leather, basketballs and football leathers are presented herein.
Leather in sports is an extremely lucrative business, perhaps due to the fact that its flexible and durable qualities make it so versatile. From making balls, gloves and protective garments, leather is a must-have in most sports.
In American football, balls were first made from an inflated pigs bladder, but with a leather cover over the top. These days, footballs have a rubber or plastic bladder but most still use a leather cover. This is because leather is a material that can be stretched and shaped into the perfect ergonomic ball known in American football. Leather strips are shaped and then stitched together to form the chosen shape. Most ball manufacturers will also tan their leather specifically to provide a tacky grip when used in both wet and dry conditions, which is particularly important in a game. During the NFL Super Bowl each team will receive 108 leather balls – 54 for training and 54 for the game. These balls will be subject to rigorous testing before a game to ensure authenticity and that there has been no tampering. British rugby used to be played with leather balls, however heavy rain mixed with the absorptive properties of leather meant that the ball became too heavy. Synthetic balls are now used.
Cricket balls also use leather covers over a cork centre, similar to how baseball balls were historically made from leather. Baseball gloves are still made from leather as the material provides the best grip and protection for catchers, particularly as these balls can travel at such high speeds.
Yet it’s not just ball sports that use leather, many other sports do too. Formula 1 drivers might be dressed head to foot in a highly scientific flame resistant synthetic material, but drivers still insist on thin suede leather driving gloves as only these provide the required sensitivity for steering during a race.
Motorcycle racers dress in leather suits in order to protect themselves if they fall off their bikes at high speeds. Each racer has a made to measure suit, as this is vitally important in a crash to ensure the right amounts of protection are in the correct areas of the body. This includes in-built protection in the knees and elbows of the suit, which are used for impact protection when turning corners and during crashes.
Every suit is made with high-quality leather as this will provide the greatest abrasion protection. Gymnastic equipment is also traditionally made from leather including vaulting boxes and pommel horses.
Handmade leather sports goods are an integral part of games and will always be.