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Silly Games Set for Calvin
September 8, 2006

Calvin College students will take part in two unusual competitions on Saturday, September 9.

First, at 10 am that day, hordes of students from the college's residence halls will take to a playing field located north of the Kalsbeek-Huizenga dorm to continue a 38-year-old pseudo-athletic fall tradition at the college called Chaos Day, in which winning takes a back seat to having fun.

And at 1 pm tomorrow, on a field adjacent to Calvin's Knollcrest East apartments, residents of those apartments will stage a similarly fun competition called the Mud Bowl, now in its 28th year.

John Witte, Calvin dean of residence life, says that Chaos Day pits teams from the residence halls in "seven silly, inane kind of events." The staff of the residence life department picks the events, which change from year to year. "They're secret and random. We don't tell anybody the sequence," says Witte.

Previous years have involved various combinations of students and props including soccer balls, wheel barrows and mattresses, the latter used for a mattress relay where eight people carry a mattress with one person on it.

Chaos Day, nevertheless, does have its own sort of grandeur.

"There's much pomp and pageantry," says Witte. "Every hall has a designated color, and then they pick a theme. They usually have mascots dressed up running around. It’s quite a scene."

Witte notes that in the past groups have been accompanied by everything from a fire truck to a military Humvee to a helicopter.

The winner of Chaos Day is awarded a plaque engraved with the names of previous winners. But there is another sort of trophy available for the team with the best attitude.

"It's a silver cup, and we call it the Cup of Perspective," Witte says laughing. "And we award it to the dorm that takes themselves the least seriously and keeps the event in perspective. Sometimes that's the losing team."

Mud Bowl, says Witte, is a little less intense and little more mud-oriented.

While Mud Bowl involves yet more silly games, its premiere event is a tug-of-war over a large mud pit.

Underlying both traditions is a spirit of fellowship says Witte.

"It's an opportunity for each residence hall to jell, to have the shared experience, something fun. Its builds a sense of community and camraderie. The competition of it is mostly fun and in jest. The tradition is rich, the outcome is meaningless."