Could Temperature Explain Deflate-Gate?

Posted: November 2, 2015, 3:51 pm by mikem

If you're an NFL fan, it seems you can never watch a pre-game show, go on social media, or read a newspaper without a mention of deflate-gate. I know it's an old story, but can deflated footballs used by the Patriots in the AFC Championship game last year have a relation to the game time temperature? 

Brian Burke of Advanced Football Analytics took the temperature relation to another level and put to use the Combined Gas Law PV/T = k to investigate the situation. Basically, the combined gas law states the ratio between the pressure, volume and temperature of a system remains constant. This means that pressure and temperature of the equation are directly proportional. In other words, if the pressure goes up, the temperature goes up and vice versa. Getting interesting right?

Mr. Burke assumed the volume of the football remained the same, as the same amount of air should remain in the ball (unless there was a leak of some kind). In his calculation he also assumed the ball was inflated to 12.5 psi (as the NFL rules state the ball must be inflated to 12.5 - 13.5 psi) and indoors at a temperature of 70 degrees. The ball was then taken outdoors, where the kickoff temperature was reported to be 51 degrees. Mr. Burke then worked his equation to solve for pressure with the now lower temperature and figured the new pressure of the footballs to be 11.5 psi. Lower than the 12.5 psi of the warmer indoor inflated ball! So temperature could explain some of the pressure deviation of deflate-gate. However, it was reported some of the footballs were lower than 11.5 psi, so by no means is this the final answer to the scandal. Plus, it seems the NFL may have explored this avenue in the Wells Report (more here).

You can read more from Advanced Football Analytics and the deflate-gate air pressure controversy here

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