Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why We Love Jimmer

Here's the editorial I wrote based on the San Diego State game:

Why we love Jimmer

It had to get cut down for the paper. So, lucky for you folks, I've got the complete version right here!

Last Saturday when No. 9 BYU beat Colorado State, Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis shared his discovery with his Twitter followers. He had found the one thing that has power over Jimmer Fredette.

"The Jimmer has 21 pts and it is not even halftime. Halftime is the only thing that can guard The Jimmer," Davis tweeted.

The pressure from a clash between two top 10 teams, a competitive basketball conference, an opposing team's antagonistic and screaming fans, distant and unfamiliar basketball arenas and even the 20.75-foot three-point line cannot hold back Fredette. He is not subject to location, distance, or fatigue. The only concept Fredette is not impervious to is time.

In fact, Fredette not only overcomes everything on the long list of what would be obstacles to any mere mortal, he thrives on it. And he's not tuckering out anytime soon, even after a hard fought 71-58 victory over San Diego State.

The Mountain West Conference schedule has only revved up Fredette's scoring output (he now averages 35.7 points per conference game), and all year his most amazing performances have been on the road. Before last night he averaged 26.7 points per game - the highest in the nation - but even more remarkable is when the home games are taken out of the equation, the average goes up, not down. Fredette averages 31 points on opponents' courts, thanks in large part to his gigantic, ridiculous long shots from deeper than downtown.

Fredette brought his road rage back to the Marriott Center under the national spotlight against No. 4 SDSU. He was 14 for 24 on field goals, 5 for 8 on threes and 10 for 11 on free throws, for a total of 43 points, and was unfazed by SDSU's Kawhi Leonard, a fellow Player of the Year possibility. His average points per game is now 27.4, more than 3 points ahead of second place Kemba Walker from Connecticut. (Leading up to this game, Fredette was so far ahead of Walker he could have missed every single one of his shots against SDSU and he would still be the best in the country.)

The highlight of last night's thunder dome in the Marriott Center was a long three right in D.J. Gay's face, which then led to a big-time dunk for teammate Jackson Emery. The streak of unbelievable, divine shooting from Fredette continues.

While "The Jimmer Show" is definitely deserving of attention from sports fans nationwide, most of Cougar Nation has another reason to root for Fredette's ever-increasing success: He has accomplished so much and has set himself up for much more, and he has done it all as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

If there's one thing we Mormons love, it's a famous Mormon. At least part of the Mormon community's support for Mitt Romney, Stephenie Meyer, Steve Young, Fredette and others is because their place in history legitimizes our religion and culture. We can prove to the world that if a Mormon can run for president, write a best-selling book, win a Super Bowl and (we hope) take a college basketball team to the Final Four. So the world shouldn't consider us weird or dangerous anymore.

Of course, we should not be begging for the world's approval. In many ways, our gospel perspective teaches us it's better to be different. Even if we're not of the world, though, we should be in the world, if nothing else to be "a city that ... cannot be hid" (Matthew 5:14). As we establish ourselves by our achievements, we invite others to learn more about the gospel and what it has to offer them. And that's a major reason why we love Jimmer.

Because when he is featured on ESPN SportsCenter, in Sports Illustrated or the Wall Street Journal, he represents each of us. The more the national spotlight shines on him, the more we "let [our] light so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works" (Matthew 5:16).

What a game.

Being a journalist can be the greatest job in the world sometimes.

I was lucky enough to have a seat at the Marriott Center last night and witness history being made.

It wasn't history because of the game itself, necessarily. BYU had beat San Diego State before. Jimmer had scored more points in earlier games. Two top ten teams in the Mountain West Conference is pretty rare.

But what really made it history was the environment surrounding the game. The hype and excitement leading up to the game might have been the bigger story.

The student section filling up at 6 p.m., more than two hours before tipoff.

At least the students acted like it. There was a beautiful white-out section, full of creative and hilarious posters and face paint. And the stadium was loud. I remember going to the Utah State game earlier this season, and it got really loud for the player introductions. But last night, it got that loud every time anything good happened for BYU. All game. And anything Jimmer did, it was even louder than that.

Which meant it was loud a lot. Because Jimmer was phenomenal. He made a believer out of everybody. (More on that here.)

Some additional game notes:

- Since I was an extra representative for The Daily Universe, I had to sit in the extra seating which was way up by the J Portal. The seats weren't bad, but when I went down to the main press row for the last minute game, there was quite a difference. Wish I were the basketball beat writer, haha.

- My Internet was working off and on, until a half hour before tipoff it quit for good and never came back on. I was frustrated and distracted the whole first half. Lucky for me though, the editorial I was planning was mostly written except for throwing in some final game stats. So I really only needed Internet at the end, so I figured I should pick up the wireless signal down on the floor. ... Nope, didn't work there either. So I literally ran to the JKB and got online there to finish up my editorial.

- I sat by The Daily Aztec's sports columnist Matt McClanahan. He was a cool dude. I probably would have chatted with him more if I weren't so distracted by my computer, but the conversation we did have was good. Nice guy. Here's what he wrote about the game: Jimmer hands SDSU its first loss. It's always interesting to see what an opposing team's student newspaper sees compared to what we see and write, haha.

- Jimmer was out of this world, but I wish the rest of the team could have made more shots. I especially felt bad for Jackson Emery, who probably could have benefited from all the NBA scouts there to see Jimmer but only had four points. On the other hand, our basketball beat writer Steve McCall pointed out that Emery did have four steals, six rebounds and held D.J. Gay to only two points. So maybe Emery put on a show for the scouts after all.

- A few of my favorite signs from the student section:

"You won't get a good night's sleep at this Marriott!"
"Kemba Who?"
"The Real King James"
"The Perfect Season Ends Tonight" ... after the game finished, flipped over to say, "Defeated"

To read my editorial, go here. And to read the long version, go here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Tucson tragedy, in the eyes of a father

I was thinking a lot about President Barack Obama's speech in Tucson. When I tuned in Wednesday night, his speech had an impact on me. My wife and I were both brought to tears, especially upon hearing the story of Christina Taylor Greene, the nine-year-old girl who was killed in that Tucson shooting and has become a symbol of the optimism and innocence that our country needs so much of.

I spent enough time thinking about it that over the weekend I was able to come up with a viewpoint for today's editorial page.

In the eyes of a father

The photo above is one I sent along with the editorial, in case there was room for it on the opinion page. I guess there wasn't, but that's one benefit of a blog! As much space as I want!

I also wrote one paragraph that, although I'll admit it was a big part of my motivation to write an editorial, didn't really fit with the mood and tone of the rest of what I wrote. So I'll include that here:

"Anyone who finds fault in this speech must be so entrenched in his conservative mindset that he is not only trying to score political points, but stubbornly won’t allow any points for Obama in the process. Regardless of my political beliefs, I can trust my president and his calm manner and thoughtful leadership."

It's a little attacking, which would have seemed out of place with the overall theme of my editorial. But, here it is on my blog, in case you're interested.

(Update: I got a nice compliment via e-mail from Bruce Young, who mentioned a similar blog post he wrote about Obama's speech and the next day's speech at BYU from Condoleezza Rice. From his blog, I found out that he is an English professor at BYU. Thanks for the response, Professor Young!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Some missions causing RMs to change political beliefs

Ah, one of the crown jewels of my journalism portfolio. (Although I wish there was a better headline. :S )

Some missions causing RMs to change political beliefs

This was the story I was maybe the most interested and motivated by out of all the stories I've ever done. I credit a lot of my personal political ideology to my mission, and it was fun to hear stories from other returned missionaries with similar experiences.

Thank you to everyone who was interviewed or otherwise contributed to this story!

I pestered my sources to send me photos, and I got a total of 10 photos. But of course, the newspaper can only use one. But, my blog has plenty of space! Here are the photos that were sent to me, and the suggested captions I wrote for them (some of the suggested captions are repetitive, just because it's meant to give enough information for the copy desk editors to write their own captions):

From Rob Charlesworth:

(the one that was actually in the paper)
Rob Charlesworth, who served in the Australia Adelaide Mission from 2007 to 2009, meets with some musical Australian Aborigines who were performing outside his apartment. Charlesworth, like many returned missionaries, came home from Australia with stronger political beliefs than he had left with.

Rob Charlesworth, who served in the Australia Adelaide Mission from 2007 to 2009, poses with friends from Thailand who he met in Australia. Charlesworth, like many returned missionaries, came home from Australia with stronger political beliefs than he had left with.

Rob Charlesworth, who served in the Australia Adelaide Mission from 2007 to 2009, smiles with his companion and a newly baptized family originally from Sudan. Charlesworth, like many returned missionaries, came home from Australia with stronger political beliefs than he had left with.

Rob Charlesworth, who served in the Australia Adelaide Mission from 2007 to 2009, smiles with his companion and a new convert, Michael from New Zealand. Charlesworth, like many returned missionaries, came home from Australia with stronger political beliefs than he had left with.

From Jamie Bowen:

Jamie Bowen and his companion pose with window washers on the 12th floor of the Garden Center in Cordoba, Argentina, the site of the Argentina Cordoba Mission office. Bowen was a registered Republican before his mission, but after returning home voted for Barack Obama for president in 2008.

Jamie Bowen imitates a giant Jesucristo statue in Chilecito, Argentina, as a missionary in the Argentina Cordoba Mission. Bowen is one of many LDS missionaries who comes home not only different in testimony and maturity, but in political ideology.

Blake Hardison (front row, fifth from right) and Jamie Bowen (front row, sixth from right) smile for the camera on their first day as a missionaries in the Argentina Cordoba Mission, in 2006. Hardison and Bowen both experienced changes in their political ideologies as a result of their two years representing the LDS Church in Argentina.

Jamie Bowen (back row, second from left) and Blake Hardison (back row, second from right) gather with other missionaries after their last zone conference together before returning home from the Argentina Cordoba Mission. Although Bowen and Hardison served in the same mission, their political ideologies were influenced differently. Bowen came home more economically liberal, while Hardison became a determined economic conservative.

From Rebecca van Uitert:

(one caption for both photos):
In 1998, Rebecca van Uitert was a young and enthusiastic supporter of Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, a senator who went on to vote for a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border (top photo, far right). But after serving among immigrants in California as an LDS missionary (botton photo, left), van Uitert's views were changed. She is now on the liberal side of the illegal immigration debate, working as an immigration lawyer in Chicago. Van Uitert is one of many returned missionaries who have different political ideologies after spending two years or 18 months in a place and culture far from home.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Winter 2011

With the end of Christmas vacation comes the beginning of a new semester for The Daily Universe.

I'm still a sports editor, but David Mortimer has graduated. I am now joined by Alex Hairston and Sarah Gambles, who were our football writers last semester. I spent a lot of time with each of them (Alex went with me to Colorado Springs, Sarah went with me to Fort Collins), and they're both a lot of fun to work with and are both good at what they do.

The reason we have three editors is because the sports desk gets to be the guinea pig for a new experiment at The Daily Universe. We are working on a new website, that will be more realistic according to the current journalism world. It's basically a Wordpress blog, so all of our reporters with their laptops will be able to upload stories from wherever they are, and we don't have to wait until the newspaper layout is being done before the stories can be read. The website is still in its preparation stages, so I'm not going to broadcast the link quite yet.

In all the craziness of having sports pages to fill and reporters to get stared on their beats, Alex, Sarah and I ended up doing a lot of writing on our own. Here's what I contributed:

BYU sports in action during Christmas break
- An article to catch up the student body on what football and men's and women's basketball did over vacation. (Here's another link, in case that first one doesn't work once the new website is up and running. For some reason it says Alex wrote it, but, I promise, it was me. :) )

The road to an NFL title is still a possibility for several former Cougars - This was a fun one to put together. Our copy chief and crazy-BYU-fan-in-residence, Brandon Judd, gave me a list of all the former BYU Cougars who are on teams in the NFL playoffs.

Let the experts speak* - Alex, Sarah and I each gave our predictions for the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.

The whole double truck* looks great. One of my new favorites.

(Oh yeah: Take a look at the photo that goes with this gymnastics story, and tell me if you recognize anyone in there.)

*Go to page

New York, New York!

I'm in a New York state of mind since Dec. 8.

I officially got an internship with Newsweek magazine this April!

The BYU Communications Department has a New York internship program, where students who earn a spot get to live in the International House on Columbia University campus near Harlem. In addition, BYU's got the hookups at a few places, Newsweek being one of them. And that's where I ended up! Staying up all night putting together my portfolio (it had copies of every single clip I've ever had from The Daily Universe, plus most of my The Dalles Chronicle ones) paid off!

Me and my little family are so excited for our New York adventure! So far, the plan is that we'll be there starting around the middle of April and stay for six weeks. We might live at the International House, or find an apartment on our own, we're not quite sure yet. I don't know a whole lot about what I'll actually be doing, because a lot of changes will happening at Newsweek around the same time I get there. But I imagine it to be like the career of my friend McKay Coppins, who interned there last summer, was asked to extend his internship and stay all summer, and ultimately was hired and never came back to Provo.

We are going to have so much fun in New York. We have plans to see all the sights (we've already put money toward a Broadway show). We are also driving out there, so we'll have our car to go on trips to Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Niagara Falls, and Palmyra. I had a little bit of the big city experience when I was a missionary in downtown Cordoba, Argentina. And I loved it. I don't think I'd ever want to raise a family in the city, but I still want to try it out for a while. And now is a great time, because Allisyn's young enough that the challenges of the city won't really be a problem (she doesn't need a backyard to play in, we don't have to make sure we live in a good school district, etc.).

For any of you who will be on the East Coast between April and June, stop by!

Clips in the Deseret News!

This is actually old news, but it's been a while since I've done any blogging, and I have a lot to catch up on.

Do you remember that "5 Black and White Movies You Must See - Even in 2010"? Well, a few weeks after it was in The Daily Universe, it made its way to the Deseret News.

Five old movies you must see - even in 2010

After the Deseret News laid off 43% of its staff (a bad omen for future journalists such as myself), they unveiled a new service called "Deseret Connect" that is basically a way for any freelancers or wannabes to submit stories for the Deseret News to use. We submitted a couple stories as part of my COMMS 377 class, and lo and behold, one of them ended up in the paper. Not only was it in the paper, but it was a big and colorful story (with lots of photos from old Deseret News archives) on the front page of the Arts & Life section, on a Sunday. And it was teased on the front page of the whole paper.

Pretty cool. Except the only way I knew about it was that one of Erin's relatives happened to mention she saw it when we had dinner that Sunday night. If we hadn't seen them that night, I don't know if I ever would have found out to this day!

On that note, I think the other story I submitted to Deseret Connect ended up in the paper too, although the only reason I know is because I thought I'd try searching for it on the Deseret News website, and there it was:

'Covert Affairs' is a show about guns and love letters

It maybe wasn't in the paper, maybe it was only on the website. I'll never know.

Basically, it's really cool to have articles in the Deseret News, by far the biggest stage I've ever been published on. But I wish I had some sort of notice! And, if I remember correctly, I should be financially, I suppose the check's in the mail?
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