Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Ohio Town Makes Superbowl Footballs

USA Today traveled to Ada in northwest Ohio to visit the only remaining football factory in the US:

In his trips to eight Super Bowls, Charles Moore has met fans who figure perfect spirals originate with somebody hitting a button: "Some people think you just put leather in a machine and out pops a football."

Hardly. Super Bowl footballs come from workers such as Moore, who used his bare and bandaged hands Monday to twist 600 balls. As a "ball turner," Moore grapples with balls that are inside out, so they can be stitched, and turns them right-side out.

He has had the job for 40 years. Not that it would be easy to take his specialty elsewhere: Every ball used in the NFL, and most used in college and high school games, comes from the Wilson Sporting Goods factory in this town of 5,582.

What's abundantly clear from the article is how manual the process is and how long the average employee has worked at the factory. Of the 5-10 people interviewed for the story, the newest employee started 15 years ago.

I don't think I would last 15 days.