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).

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