Sunday, October 20, 2019

Homecoming, Septuagenarians, and Sport

This past weekend was Albany's homecoming.  Alums were congregated in various places on campus with the alleged centerpiece a football game, and a university museum exhibit about the connections between Art and Sport.

At a school like my alma mater the enthusiasm for football is not what it is at many universities. There was, however, cheering at the game, and one particular fan with a bell seated in front of us was so noisy that I wondered what it might be like to wring a neck as the fan incessantly rang the bell.  There indeed was cause for some excitement in the fourth quarter as both teams attempted to manage the clock.  Rhode Island needed to rush to score and Albany attempted to exhaust the time to save the victory. Albany ran out the clock and won the game 35-28.

Several of us, all fledgling septuagenarians, traveled to the state's capital to attend the game. We get together once or twice a year to reconnect.  This time a recurring theme was that each of us was either already, or would be shortly, 70- old in a way that was beyond our ability to conceptualize when we were undergraduates.

We had a meal together on Friday night and were served by a recent university graduate from our school. "What did you study?", we asked. "Physics" she said. "Using it right?" she quipped as she took away our dishes.  One of the bunch of us, asked if she had a sister who might be forty years older.  This caused another wise guy to comment that that would still make the sib too young for us.

At the Alumni House on Saturday morning we met a fellow sixteen years our senior.  The function brought alums together from various fraternities that existed at the time.  One of the first things the man said to us was that he was on the team that first beat a rival fraternity in football in the mid 50s.  Later a group of others came by, again our senior but by only a half dozen years, and again mentioned sporting events as highlights of their time. I met two former editors of the sport pages of the school paper who spoke about how their extracurricular activity in sports journalism launched their careers.

We sat at a table prior to the game in something akin to a tailgating setting. Tailgating light.  We stared at a picture of other septuagenarians who are contemporaries, and could not recognize a particular guy whom we all knew well.  There were toasts to those who have passed, and questions about those we have not seen in a spell, and those who somehow had managed to avoid the wide angle lens of social media.

We walked around the campus and spotted a family waiting for their son to emerge from his dormitory. Coincidentally his room was near a section where we had been in the 60s.  Out came the fellow and we said that he should take a look at us, because we were him 50 years later. He did not want to get his head around that as he stared at the gray and balding cluster. We asked another undergraduate to take our picture.  She willingly did so, and then walked away--and we could see that she had on a tee shirt that read "Class of 2023."  Yikes.

For some reason they had scheduled the game as a 330 start. In Albany even in October it can be cold and gets colder when the sun goes down.  It was a beautiful and unseasonably warm day while the sun was out, but once the sun went down it was close to frigid.  Only three of our group stayed to the end of the game even though it was close.

The Art and Sport exhibit was interesting, housed in a section of the campus now called the University Art Museum.  But the real museum was the entire campus that day, from the madhouse in the bookstore selling football and lacrosse jerseys, to the concurrent open house with high school seniors parading about, to we septuagenarians meandering and shmoozing during, before, and after the game.

And then of course there was the most significant exhibit for us.  As we said our goodbyes after dinner on Saturday the tacit message for us all was this:   Like the football teams in the fourth quarter--we need to wisely manage the remaining time on the clock.