An American football is shaped like a prolate spheroid, a continuously curved three-dimensional object that is longer than it is around. Footballs used for the game of soccer are truncated icosahedrons, three-dimensional objects with 32 sides.
Prolate spheroids and truncated icosahedrons both have their advantages as playing ball shapes. The prolate spheroid shape of an American football allows it to be thrown with less drag. Throwing it so that the ball spins around its short axis while in flight dramatically reduces drag further, allowing it to be thrown much farther than other ball designs. The truncated icosahedron shape of soccer balls produces a roughly spherical shape when sewn together from patches of leather. Its roundness allows for predictable movement when struck from any side.