Has the football always been oblong, or as the game evolved, did the ball evolve from a sphere with the discovery that an almond-shaped ball would be easier to catch? - Jinx
As I understand it the origional football was much fatter. More like the rugby football. As the forward pass became more important, and I suppose crowd pleasing, the ball became slimmer to make it easier to throw.
I don’t know if an almond shaped ball is easier to catch or not. It is easier to throw. SandyHook is right about how it changed. As the ball changed shapes, and became more pointed, the drop-kick died off.
I don’t think the shape of the football makes much of a difference in the catching ability, but you can certainly throw a pointy football farther than a round one.
American football is a variation of Rugby football. Rugby balls and American footballs are a pretty simlair shape, don’t quote me on this as I have never actuallly seen a proper American football anywhere except on TV, but I believe that they are a little more streamlined. This I imagine is because the technique of throwing an American football is completely different from throwing a Rugby ball. In Rugby you are not allowed to pass forwards (i.e. throw the ball in any direction that is going away from your try-line) which means that that it is always nearly passed sideways (with both hands and at about chest level) so a long throw is not needed. In American football, of course, the ability to throw it as far as you can is key.
Therefore my guess is that the Rugby ball is shaped primarily to make it easier to catch, wheras the American football has becoame more streamlined so that it will go alot further.