NCAA student-athletes, coaches, and staff gathered to learn best practices in Inclusion in college sports.
This past month, the NCAA brought a group of academic and athletic leaders together with student-athletes to discuss the state of educational and professional environments at NCAA institutions. While the NCAA typically catches flack around March madness for what some believe to be athlete exploitation, this year, the Inclusion Forum may have granted it some reprieve.
The Forum was no publicity stunt, however. Sessions included heavy-hitting topics like balancing LGBTQ inclusion with religious freedom, recognizing and addressing racial tension, and collaborating with disability services. Several speakers addressed the challenges women face in the sports world, from securing head coaching positions to sexual assault on campus. One session was centered almost entirely on knowing the names and accomplishments of our Paralympic Athletes, incredibly profound in its simplicity. There was even a breakdown on how hip-hop culture is impacting student-athletes. The goal was to discuss policy, research, and best practices as it applies to inclusionary practices for student-athletes, coaches, and staff.
The roster of presenters included the best across industries, each bringing a unique perspective to the conversation. Attendees heard from Title IX champions, Dr. Christine Grant and Dr. Charlotte West, William Rhoden, sports journalist for ESPN’s The Undefeated, and mental health advocate Happy Carlock from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Not only did attendees learn from experts in the field, they also engaged in practical skill-building workshops like creating climate surveys for the workplace and utilizing a tool-kit to improve race relations in athletic departments. Participants learned about code-switching and language barriers and how those communication skills can positively impact student-athletes’ experiences.
The Forum even included issues that don’t always come to top of mind when thinking about inclusion. For example, college football Hall of Famer Don McPherson spoke on “healthy masculinity and the damaging effects of misogyny on male athletes, and Emily Pasnak-Lapchick of UNICEF, together with her father Richard Lapchick, PhD, explained how sports have the power to support the fight against human trafficking.
The NCAA Inclusion Forum seemed to hit the mark; topics were relevant and in-depth, and participants left with new knowledge to conquer the challenges of our day. The NCAA is to be applauded for its efforts to bring concrete change to its institutions, and hopefully the Forum will be the first step of many towards advancing inclusion in athletic programs nationwide.
Click here to read more.