Hope College and Calvin College are well-known as athletic rivals, but intensity in competition needn’t mean bitterness either on the court or beyond.
Dr. Chad Carlson, assistant professor of kinesiology and junior varsity men’s basketball coach at Hope, and Dr. Brian Bolt, professor of kinesiology and men’s golf coach at Calvin, are embodying that ideal in a fitting purpose: they are co-directing the second Global Congress on Sport and Christianity, which will be held in October 2019 at Calvin College. The event is an ecumenical gathering of sport administrators, coaches, athletes, pastors and theologians that seeks not only to explore the mutual impact of belief and sport, but to affect a cultural shift in modern sport and the role it plays in a life of faith.
It’s not the first time that the two professors have worked together. During the inaugural Global Congress in 2016, held in York, England, they and four students — two from each college — presented “Christianity and the Nature of Sporting Rivalries,” sharing the results of research that they had conducted collaboratively. Their study found, appropriately enough, that rivals need not be enemies and competition need not be incompatible with being Christian, as long as those involved keep their faith in mind and what happens on the court or playing field in perspective.
The 2016 Global Congress drew nearly 200 participants from 24 nations, and featured multiple keynote lectures and more than 80 additional presentations. This year’s program will develop across the next year, but the 10 scheduled keynote speakers include sports figure Loretta Claiborne, recipient of the 1996 Arthur Ashe Award for Courage; Dr. Scott Kretchmar, an emeritus professor of exercise and sport at The Pennsylvania State University and a past president of the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport; theologian Miroslav Volf of Yale University; Dr. Fred Johnson III of the Hope history faculty; and Dr. Amber Warners, a member of the kinesiology faculty and volleyball coach at Calvin.
More and updated information about the 2019 event is available at calvin.edu/events/2GCSC/. The Congress can also be followed on Twitter at @SportTheology, which is run by 2017 Hope graduate Elizabeth Perkins, now a seminary student at Baylor University.
Carlson’s research is focused broadly on the socio-cultural aspects of sport, and his publications include the 2017 book “Making March Madness: The Early Years of the NCAA, NIT and College Basketball Championship Tournaments, 1922-1951.” In the classroom, his work focuses on the philosophy of sport, the history of sports and their role in cultural trends, and the connection between sports and Christianity.
A member of the Hope faculty since 2014, he is a 2003 Hope graduate. He earned his Master of Arts degree in the health, physical education and recreation, and pedagogy program at Western Michigan University, and his doctorate in kinesiology and the history/philosophy of sport program at Penn State University. Before coming to Hope, he was an assistant professor, assistant chair and graduate program coordinator at Eastern Illinois University.