As the football season carries on, we are here to remind you that the oil and natural gas industry has played a major role in the game – year after year – since the very beginning.
While some teams have come and gone – there are more defunct NFL teams than active ones – oil and natural gas have stuck around through the ages and improved the game to make it safer, more efficient, and a truly modern game.
Back in the day, football players used crudely made leather helmets – more like ear flaps than the hard-shelled, protective lined helmets we use today. The plastic helmet was introduced by Riddell in the 1940’s and changed the way modern head gear was made. By the 70’s, Riddell added air-filled vinyl pads for better impact absorption. Today, scientific research continues to find better ways to protect players – but they all require plastics and synthetic materials, made from oil and natural gas.
Early shoulder pads were made of leather and wool sewn into the player’s jersey: imagine tackling with those today! Shoulder pads made from plastic began to be manufactured in the 60’s and 70’s. While they were bulky and awkward, players and coaches recognized the need to protect the ribs and chest along with shoulders. Today, technology keeps improving shoulder pads to be lighter and smaller for the players, while providing better protection and mobility.
Even each team’s iconic uniform is made possible by oil and natural gas. Jerseys and pants are made from synthetic materials, and many of the colors that set teams apart are derived from oil and natural gas.
Cleats, and the turf they dig into, are made of polymers too. Each shoe has synthetic materials from the lining to the strings and a rubber sole. Turf is made of polymer fibers with small pieces of high-grade rubber in between. Even some stadiums roofs and exteriors rely on polymers. Every plastic water bottle, coach’s clipboard, and referee’s whistle are derived from oil and natural gas. Even footballs have a synthetic bladder that keeps them airtight and ready to play.
Each year, the technology surrounding the game gets better and better. Researchers in sports medicine help players reach the top of their game, prevent injuries, and improve recoveries. Improvements to equipment make the game safer for all – just look at how far we’ve come, thanks in part, to oil and natural gas.