Listening to commentators on NFL games, it seems that all of them systematically call the ball "the football", and not just "the ball".

Why is that the case? In Rugby or Soccer (at least in my country) I've never heard commentators call the ball "the rugby ball" or "the soccer ball". There doesn't seem to be any advantage to calling it "the football", which is longer and not really more descriptive.

"Football" is the name of the sport. Why do comentators insist on calling the ball it is played with the same name as the sport itself?

  • Football is the name of the sport, but the ball they play with is also called a football, so I'm not understanding the last sentence.
    – New-To-IT
    Commented Sep 14, 2015 at 13:29
  • Well in that case why is the ball even called a football? Why not just a ball? But the main focus of the question is the insitence of commentators, I've never heard one call it just "the ball". In tennis for example sometimes they call it "the tennis ball" but usually just "the ball", why not the same in American Football?
    – Fatalize
    Commented Sep 14, 2015 at 13:43

1 Answer 1


First, the object is a "football". See Definition 9:

The ball used in any game called "football".

Second, your premise is mistaken. Commentators do call it the "ball".

From http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sports/league-of-denial/transcript-50/

He fumbled the ball! And let’s see— Minnesota has it! Jeff Seamon on it.

Joe Starkey's call of "The Play":

the ball is still loose, as they get it to Rodgers!

Searching in Google for "comes down with the" NFL yields many examples of "comes down with the ball".

I will try to get a better estimate, but I believe it is called "the ball" more often than it is called "the football" during broadcast.


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