Why Do College Footballs Have Stripes?

Football, football helmet, tee and shoes on football field

Watch enough football and you'll notice something about the game ball: The NFL football is uniform leather while the NCAA football has two white stripes. The answer to why the footballs are different is not complex either. They simply want to stand out from one another.

The Traditional Football

The college football is the older, more traditional ball. Back in the mid-1920s, every football was made with white stripes. Then, in 1941, the NFL switched the color of the ball to white with black stripes for visibility during night games, according to Rick Walls, an Eastern Region Coordinator for the National Football Foundation, in an ESPN Magazine publication. As stadium lighting improved, the NFL began to seek alternative football colors, notes Walls. Wilson, the company that supplies the NFL and most colleges with their footballs, then made a prototype without stripes. Since night-game visibility wasn't an issue, the NFL chose to use the stripe-less ball to distinguish itself from the business of NCAA football.