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Common Ground

Common Ground IV coming this fall

Common Ground IV will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at Brigham Young in Provo, Utah. The Common Ground program was created to provide individuals at public and private colleges and universities, faith-based organizations and LGBTQ affiliations with an opportunity to discuss what makes them similar and different and how they can work more cohesively within athletics populations. 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. Details for the 2018 program will be finalized in early fall. There also will be a recap of the program and discussions on the NCAA inclusion webpage later this year. 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.