You are here

Common Ground

Common Ground IV held November 2018 at Brigham Young University

In partnership with Brigham Young University (BYU), the office of inclusion hosted Common Ground IV in Provo, Utah last week (Oct. 31 – Nov. 1). BYU was the first private, faith-based Division I institution to host Common Ground, which aims to establish inclusive and respectful athletics environments for participants of all sexual orientations, gender identities and religious beliefs. Common Ground IV concluded with participants developing action plans to create more inclusive cultures in their athletics departments.

The main goal of Common Ground is to foster environments in athletics that respect dignity and support the well-being of student-athletes and those who teach and lead them. The program is currently by invitation only and has been held at the NCAA national office and at faith-based colleges and universities through the years. There will be a recap of the program and discussions on the NCAA inclusion webpage at a later date. For more insight on the success of Common Ground, visit ncaa.org/static/champion/an-uncommon-conversation/.

A deep divide exists between some people who support equal rights for the LGBTQ community and those who oppose these social and legal changes, in part because of deeply held religious beliefs. Not surprisingly, this dynamic extends to intercollegiate athletics, specifically between the LBGTQ community and some faith-based institutions that are members of the NCAA in all three divisions. The differences of belief between faith communities and the LGBTQ community can pose a challenge to athletics programs that are committed to the inclusion and well-being of all student-athletes and coaches.

To address this issue in the spirit of inclusion, the NCAA in November 2014 invited students and administrators from a variety of institutions, including faith-based ones, to a think tank to begin exploring how to bridge these gaps and find common ground. The goal: establish inclusive and respectful athletics environments for participants of all sexual orientations, gender identities and religious beliefs. 

Appropriately titled “Common Ground,” the discussion began the dialogue between athletics and university officials by offering practical solutions and initiatives on how to break down barriers of fear, lack of trust, misunderstanding and judgment between these communities and individuals.

The third Think Tank took place November 1-2, 2017 at Houghton College in New York. To read the report, click here.