Science, or Officials could be to blame for Deflategate
By Matt Blanchette
The Super Bowl is 11 days away but the attention is still fixated on Deflategate.
A source tells ESPN that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs used during the AFC Championship game were under-inflated. But the question remains how they got that way.
The league is still investigating and sources tell ESPN that the balls were inspected by the referees by rule two hours before kickoff and were properly inflated at that time.
The Patriots could be in hot water if they are found guilty of willfully deflating footballs.
But how would they do it? Doug Gobielle teaches physics at URI and says under the conditions of Sunday’s game simple physics could have contributed to the football losing pressure.
“If 11 out of 12 footballs are under inflated by roughly the same amount, it sounds like something physically happened and does not sound like someone physically tampered with them,” he said.
Gobielle says he did the math, replicating the conditions of Sunday’s game.
“You could have lost about 1.5 psi. Maybe. Same amount of air just different pressure. And so it is reasonable.“
Jim Ashley officiated high school football in Massachusetts for over 30 years and currently serves as the director of officials for southeastern Mass and Rhode Island
He says an official at any level handles a football hundreds of times during a game and a dip from 12.5 psi down to around 10 psi would be noticeable.
“You could tell but it still at that level of play you could tell. But it’s not going to make a difference. Now if it was down to 8 or 9 (psi)… yea you can tell a softie,” he said.
By rule the balls are supposed to remain with the officials until just before kickoff., so if they “were” tampered with, someone did not, as Bill Belichick says, do their job.
“Somebody didn’t do something or somebody did something,” Ashley said.