Who asked better questions during the infamous “DeflateGate” scandal and who can we turn to next time? Luckily, there are many in science who can sort out our worst divisions!

Let’s find the real answer behind the deflated AFC footballs: a story that filled the news for months in 2015.

We dive into current events here at EWC whenever people are forgetting to ask better questions and this article is the perfect opportunity to show you what we mean by “better questions”.

Even if you are not a sports fan, join us in solving a riddle, by looking into the uproar about the discovery that the footballs used in the NFL’s 2015 AFC championship game were not inflated to the proper pressure. You may remember that for months, this was all anyone could talk about on ESPN and CNN!

Today, we’re going to debunk the conspiracy theories and prove that there may have been nothing newsworthy there! The fact is, that as long as footballs have been inflated and tested inside before game time if they were then taken outside to a field that was 30 degrees (or more) colder, the balls have most certainly always been deflating.

It’s science!

Here’s where the better question came in:

Finally, some scientists who also happened to be football fans weighed in on this controversy and before we complicate things even further, here’s someone who can explain the science of why this issue is now just empty rhetoric in the sports echo chambers. Take a look…

If you’d like to read more that independently confirmed the video and poke some fun at the matter, we found a great article by Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel that’s worth a quick read, found here.

Now back to asking a better question: we’ll have to give kudos to the smart people at HeadSmart Labs who do this sort of testing for a living (their website is really interesting to scroll through), and also we’ll give Sal Khan of the Khan Academy kudos for actually detailing out the math for anyone who is hard to convince.

Instead of immediately going to accusations or defense by asking “who is responsible for the foul play?”, HeadSmart Labs and Khan took the 10,000-foot look and said:

“How could this have happened without foul play?”

What would a world look like where people jumped to ask real experts – people who have long, broadly respected resumes in a pertinent field – before drawing conclusions?

Once I saw the math, folks, I wondered how we never noticed the deflation factor that should be happening in every football game ever played in cold weather!

Whenever the outdoor temp is at or below freezing and the balls are inflated in a cozy 72-degree locker room indoors, there is always going to be a deflation factor as big or bigger than the one discovered in the AFC championship game. Now you know too.

No magic (and probably no mischief) here; just science!

In conclusion: Ask a better question, get a better answer.

Stay open, curious and hopeful.

~ Dr. Chuck Verderber


Bonus Info (for any remaining doubters or physics geeks)

Need more proof? Below we have Sal Khan of the Khan Academy (the founder of an amazing website dedicated to making learning at all levels free to all around the globe) showing us the actual mathematics. The pundits can ramble on about this as long as it sells beer and Nike tennis shoes, but the mathematics won’t change! Khan also explains the physics in a way that we can all totally understand…if we just relax and don’t get bogged down in the fancy language we can see where Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson (and many others) went wrong at first pass. See what you think!

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  1. “HeadSmart Labs “DeflateGate” Study.” YouTube. HeadSmart Labs, 24 Jan. 2015. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxsXFX3tDpg>.
  2. “Deflate Gate.” YouTube. Khan Academy, 30 Jan. 2015. Web. 2 Feb. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2JdRB3bdFM>.

Dr. Chuck is our CFO--Chief Fun Officer--at Ever Widening Circles. He and Dr. Lynda are dentists in and practice together at Fiddlehead Dental in Northern Vermont.