There will probably never be football at Calvin

Mark my words, there will never be football at Calvin. . . at least for a decade or two.

For as long as I can remember, people in Grand Rapids have been talking about Calvin’s lack of a varsity football team. In 2011 the discussion went as far as a huge task force being assembled to thoroughly consider the feasibility of a Calvin football team.

As a fan of football and also being a tall, 300 pound guy who could probably pancake some defensive ends, the idea of a football team at Calvin is really intriguing. So, I did some research and found that there was a little bit of documentation on Calvin’s website about the subject.

Information on that task force is given, finishing with this statement:

At present, there are no plans to add football to Calvin’s list of intercollegiate sports, but the idea continues to be discussed as part of the future of Calvin College.” There’s even a detailed faq page with every question one could imagine.

This was back in 2012, however, and as far as I know not much has happened since. Well, nothing regarding a football team, at least. Athletics at Calvin is like a well-oiled machine that seems to get better year after year. It makes sense that so many successful programs would make people forget about the absence of the most popular sport in the U.S.

In my opinion, those still holding out hope for a football team in the near future will have to hold on for a little while, still. The next action taken by Calvin will probably be 20-30 years from now when another task force is assembled and the board rests without voting on the matter. The problem is not that a football program at Calvin would be unsuccessful. The people involved in Calvin athletics — faculty, athletes, coaches, fans and more — are uniquely gifted and have been a vital cog in the ever-expanding Calvin College universe. After introducing a football team, it would take a few years for Calvin to gain some respect and start winning games and the hearts of recruits, but it could be done. Sometimes I smile as I imagine a quarterback from Hope College get sacked and flattened by a hulking Calvin nose-tackle.

Really, though, I think there is too much that would need to happen that just isn’t in the best interest of our school at the moment, especially financially. If we happened to get a team, where would the players come from? I know that there are a lot of high schools that Calvin gets athletes from who also send football players out to colleges like Hope, GVSU, Central Michigan and so on, but what would motivate 99 players to come to a new program like Calvin instead of an established one like the schools just mentioned? There is also the reality of Calvin’s debt. I know things are getting better with Le Roy as we slowly dig ourselves out of a hole, but investing in a new sports program is not a priority when it comes to allocating resources at the moment.

Calvin would probably not be able to afford a new field right away either, meaning the best home field would have to be the soccer/lacrosse field or a nearby high school. The problem with using the soccer field is that it is already difficult enough to take care of the natural grass without there being 100 heavy dudes digging their cleats into it. Perhaps Calvin could reconsider artificial turf as they have recently, but that would be another issue in itself.

There are numerous other factors at play when something like this is considered, and though I hope the conversation around a football team continues, I don’t foresee Knights fighting in the trenches anytime soon.