|New T-shirts didn't help; Calvin lost 76-70.|
This was not even an opportunity to sit on the bleachers and cheer on the Calvin College Knights. Instead, we viewed the game through a live TV feed to a Greene Turtle sports bar about a half-hour’s ride south of us in Hanover, Md.
The game was the latest in an epic rivalry, which has pitted Calvin against the Hope College Flying Dutchmen since either 1917 or 1921, depending on whom you ask. Dutch Calvinists make up the population of both colleges, a mere 30 miles apart in Western Michigan. And Dutch Calvinists can find excuses to argue over just about anything ( infralapsarianism vs. supralapsarianism; common grace vs. special grace; how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, and should they even be dancing at all?). So even the date of the first official game is in dispute.
More than 70 watch parties were scheduled around the country, bringing Calvin and Hope grads together to watch the game, compare Dutch names ( Haverdink? Slopsema? Vlaardingerbroek?) and keep the rivalry going.
Michael, who loves basketball and loves me (maybe not in that order), thought this could be a fun afternoon among the Calvinists. We got in the spirit and went online to order Calvin T-shirts from the campus bookstore. Meanwhile, representing the class of 1969, I thought I might be the oldest Calvin grad there.
We found the bar and settled in at a table of alums from the 1980s. But if Michael (University of Arizona, 1986) was among age-appropriate fans, I was not. Then, a woman at the next table noticed my name tag and leaned toward me.
Were you class of ’69?” she asked. It took me only a second to recognize her.
“Switch chairs with me,” I said to Michael.
And while Dawn and I caught up with 40 years of life after Calvin, Michael was happy to carry on in the now, chatting with a 1980 Hope graduate as Calvin blew an 18-point lead and lost the game.