Athletics and faith can be inherently co-involved. Having faith in teammates, coaches, medical staff, and fan support are central to both team and individual success. You’ll often hear players thank God postgame, or point towards the heavens after delivering a big play. These actions are far from uncommon, and for good reason; faith can be a rock to rely on during times of intense emotion.
Often faith can simply be a part of growing up, being raised in a religious household. Other times faith can be selective, something discovered later in life at a time when you need it most. For others, religious faith isn’t something that plays a central role in day to day life. However, for senior safety D’Cota Dixon, providing a space in which student athletes can discuss issues of Christian Faith was a must.
Dixon, one of Wisconsin football’s team captains and defensive disrupters, co-leads a Bible study group for athletes on campus through an organization called Athletes in Action, with whom Dixon has been involved since the end of his freshman year. AIA sponsors a space for monthly meetings in which student-athletes can safely discuss their faith and athletics. Dixon was approached by administrative leaders within AIA as a candidate to lead the group, along with junior track athlete Amy Davis,
“Staff had asked [Amy and I] if we were willing to do it, and [Amy and I] felt like it was a great opportunity,” Dixon told SST. “God was calling us into a leadership role to explore that, and we did it. It was a good turnout, great learning experience as well.”
After the two accepted the offer, meetings commenced at the beginning of the summer, and students quickly began to flock to the group.
“I had to move it from my apartment to The Upper House,” Dixon said, “It varied from around six [participants] the first week to around 30 the fifth or sixth week.”
As for content, the students focused on The Book of Job, which, after some research, became an incredibly poetic chapter to choose. The Book of Job, more or less, discusses the morality of God. Job, the subject of the chapter, experiences inner quarrels over the willingness of God to allow suffering, after declaring himself truly good while “holding the world in his/her hands.” In order to reconcile this turmoil, a third figure, that of Satan, is introduced, whose entire purpose is to alienate humans from God’s light. In brief summation, those who are faithful to God must realize that some suffering occurs as a result of conflict between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.
When all is said and done, this a very powerful chapter, it’s perhaps the most contested question posed by skeptics of God’s existence, “Why, if God is good, does he allow suffering?” The answer, at least as stated in the Bible, is that to have faith in God’s vision and trust in its omniscience and omnipotence.
To take on such a multifaceted and complex chapter would seem a challenge to some, but Dixon does not fall under such a category, as his actualization of faith is similar to Job’s struggle,
“I’ve always been a persistent person,” he says. “It’s just an attitude really is what faith’s always been. Being certain in things that you hope for, other things you can’t see.”
Like Job, athletes battle against the opposition weekly if not daily, and it’s through faith in one another and a larger goal that keeps them focused and hungry to overcome their ultimate challenge.
This faith can manifest itself on and off the field, and its all-encompassing nature is what makes it difficult to put all your energy into, but Dixon says his strong faith has helped him in both environments,
“God always does in everything,” he says.
His certainty in both the power of God and the drive of those around him fuel his belief that the group has nowhere to go but up,
“I see it getting bigger. I see God working in young people. I see God changing the culture through people. Guys will step up, just like they have to do on the football team, they will also step up in positions of faith to lead that and take it on.”
Engraved on Dixon’s arm is a mantra of sorts, written in wavy blue ink, “No Weapon Formed Against Me Shall Prosper”, reads the tattoo. The sentence is an excerpt from Isaiah, but more than that, it’s a mindset that Dixon has adopted to fuel his holistic faith, both during the fourth quarter, and during Bible study.