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Fazio: Is the future of football changing?
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Baseball is America's favorite pastime.

Unfortunately though, it's not America's present time or future time.

The country's top young athletes stopped signing up for little league at an early age, didn't join up later to see if, indeed, chicks did dig the long ball and would go on to participate in more sexier, more publicized sports - mostly football and basketball.

Over the last couple of years, the top American athlete drafted into Major League Baseball has been Bryce Harper. Put him alongside say Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Kyrie Erving or Derrick Favors and he's watching them compete athletically from a distance about the same as one of his towering home run shots.

There are probably several factors in the attraction of the top young players to football and basketball, but one undoubtedly is that children don't want to play baseball as much.

Nowadays, the top sport is football, surpassing baseball as America's new favorite past time. However, could football go the way of baseball as well, the sport where in the World Baseball Classic (invented by Americans) the American team hasn't been able to claim a championship?

It seems like most young boys want to follow in the footsteps of Peyton Manning, Newton, Calvin Johnson and others and strap on the helmet and pads to chase NFL dreams and scholarship offers. Youth football leagues are more prevalent and accessible than they have been in the past, keeping a pipeline of the country's top athletes going into the country's top sport.

Last week the nation's leading youth football league, Pop Warner, made new rule changes to limit what is a pressing problem with football - concussions.

The sport is, at its core, a violent one. One player tries to knock down another player, or if you're a New Orleans Saint, tries to take out a player before cashing your reward check. This violence, i.e. blocking and tackling, obviously, can lead to injuries.

Those injuries have taken center stage as former NFL players recently filed a lawsuit against the NFL seeking damages from injuries. That publicity helped Pop Warner reach the conclusion to make a 30 percent limit for head-to-head contact during its youth practices.
This is, on the surface, a good thing.

Six to 12 year olds find so many other ways to get bumps scrapes and bruises, and since television and the Internet is so influential in shaping the inside of their heads, why should football misshapen the outside.

However, while Pop Warner is protecting its young players, newspapers, television and websites are questioning how such a terrific sport can be limited. What that is doing is finding its way in front of the mothers of would-be-football players, who give the final go/no go to sign up little Johnny to play football at the age of 6.

And most mothers I know won't go out of their way to endanger their child. And thanks to all the publicity of lawsuits and rule changes, whether it's warranted or not, football has just been dubbed dangerous.
So mom says, "No little Johnny, you can't sign up for football just yet." But Johnny needs an activity so off to basketball, soccer or baseball he goes.

It won't have any effect on the 2013 Super Bowl or even the 2023 Super Bowl, but in 20 years or so, Johnny, who may have turned out to be the next Peyton Manning, is trying to get promoted from AA to AAA baseball because back in 2012 mom said no to the helmets, pads and pigskins.

America's best athletes stopped playing little league baseball, and now look at the top MLB players. Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Calros Gonzalez and Yu Darvish are all leading the way for their respective teams and none of them could represent the United States in the World Baseball Classic.

As young athletes stop playing football, however, there won't be a contingent of European, South American or Asian players to fill in the gap since football is known throughout the world as American Football - we're the only ones who play it at anywhere near a high level.
There will be no worldwide relief.

Will we lose football as the country's top game? And if we gain more older age athletes without brain damange, isn't that worth it?