Is football's popularity at a turning point due to safety risks?

Pop Warner, the sport’s largest youth organization, announced rule changes last week that will drastically reduce the amount of contact allowed during practice.

And in a recent appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” the Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw said he believed that concern over head injuries would cause football to be eclipsed in popularity by soccer and other sports within 10 years.

Jay Coakley, a sports sociologist at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, said: “Football is really on the verge of a turning point here. We may see it in 15 years in pretty much the same place as boxing or ultimate fighting.”

In other words, less a lucrative American colossus and more a niche sport beloved for its brutality…

“Football is resting on this foundation of parental and cultural and masculinity-issued support that could be pushed to the background once people start to realize that taking the chance of brain damage isn’t worth proving that you’re a particular kind of man,” Coakley said. “We’re beginning to see the erosion of that support.”

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