“Head Games:” Football at a crossroads

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Updated: 9/27/12 1:12 p.m.

Saturday was supposed to be a big day for the Dorrance family of Willowbrook.

The kickoff for the 31st annual Doings Cup football game will be at noon Saturday at Hinsdale Central’s Dickerson Field. For the first time, father and son will be on opposite sides of the field for a varsity game. Veteran coach Tom Dorrance is the defensive coordinator for No. 11 Hinsdale Central (4-1). His son, Jake Dorrance, is a junior two-way lineman for Hinsdale South (4-1). Central has won the last 10 meetings against District 86 rival South.

But Jake (pictured right) will not be able to play in the game. He suffered a concussion June 28 during summer workouts and has missed preseason practice and just recently received clearance to return to the playing field. The only problem is that he has not participated in enough practices as regulated by the IHSA to be eligible to play Saturday.

Up until this week, Jake Dorrance has been forced to stand on the sidelines with his team during games, but in shorts or blue jeans with his game jersey on.

“It will be my first game back, but I have not played for a number of weeks,” Dorrance said.

Dorrance isn’t alone among Hinsdale South athletes with concussions. Senior Grant Morford was forced to find another sport to play.

Dorrance and Morford have suffered two concussions during the athletic careers. Dorrance’s first concussion came two years ago on the basketball court.

“In basketball, I could see stars and had to take a couple of tests,” Jake said.

Dorrance can remember the details of his second concussion.

“I was hit in the back of the head,” he said. “I felt dizzy, light-headed and had headaches.”

Concussion awareness has been a big issue lately and acclaimed documentary director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) has turned his camera onto the issue with the release of his latest film, “Head Games,” Friday at the Siskel Film Center in Chicago. Screenings will be held:

Friday at 6 and 8 p.m.

Saturday at 3:15, 5:15 and 7:45 p.m.

Sunday at 5:15 p.m.

Oct. 1-4 at 6 and 8 p.m.

James will host a Q & A after the film at the 8 p.m. Friday and 5:15 p.m. Sunday screenings. “Head Games” is adapted from former Hersey football player Christopher Nowinski’s book, “Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis.” Nowinksi was featured in a Hallways blog entry in 2011. I have not seen “Head Games,” but James’ recent projects on “The Interrupters,” ESPN’s 30 for 30 called “No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson” and “Stevie” have been excellent. James should rank as one of the country’s best current doc filmmakers, along with Errol Morris and Michael Moore. James’ next project is the adaptation of Roger Ebert’s autobiography, “Life Itself.”

Viewing “Head Games” is also available on Facebook at https://apps.facebook.com/headgamesthefilm/

James was among four panelists Monday in a discussion about “Head Games” and concussions sponsored by ChicagoSide at Joe’s Bar in Chicago. The moderator was ChicagoSide editor Jonathan Eig and the panel included Sun-Times sports columnist Rick Telander, who wrote an award-winning series on head trauma among his former Northwestern football teammates, James and Nowinski and former Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer.

Hillenmeyer’s playing career was cut short by concussions. He is now a guest speaker on the issue and will be giving a lecture on “Youth Sports Injury Prevention is the Name of the Game” at 7 p.m. today (Wednesday) at Naperville North and at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at Hinsdale Central.

ChicagoSide has featured a couple of stories pondering the future of football: Is Football the Next Boxing? and Football: Enjoy It While You Can.

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