Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just your everyday miracles...

What constitutes something as miraculous? Is it something out of the ordinary? Something that indicates the power of some sort of divine intervention? Or are miracles more common than that? Is it a stretch to say that some of the most common everyday occurrences are some of the most miraculous events we experience? For example, everyday there are literally hundreds of thousands of babies born, does that not make it a miracle, or is life a miracle in itself? This question has intrigued many of the greatest philosophers and theologians that have walked on this earth. It's easy to say that someone walking on water or being raised from the dead would be considered miraculous, but by defining these supernatural events as miraculous, we may miss some of the less extraordinary but perhaps more important manifestations of the presence of deity in our lives.
Consider people who find the time to dedicate themselves wholly to fighting the exploitation of those around them, isn't that somewhat miraculous? Many times these people risk their lives to save the lives of other people. The fact that there are people who are selfless enough to give up all they have to safe the lives of a stranger is one of the greatest miracles that we have the chance to witness. It doesn't have to be that extreme, many times people go out of their way to help out people they don't know. Recently, I lost my wallet at school, but some good-natured stranger took the time to find get it to a place where it could be given back to me. What motivates people to do this? What gain did the person who found my wallet get out of turning it in to a lost and found? He/She could have just as easily taken my credit cards or identification to exploit me to their advantage. They could have done nothing as well. My point is that many times do some of the most good when nobody is watching and that in it's own right is miraculous.
Perhaps the most miraculous thing that the vast majority of people experience in this life is the opportunity to love and be loved. When it comes down to it, is there anything more miraculous than a human being giving all they have to make the life of someone else better and the fact of the matter is that most of us will experience this at some point whether with a romantic partner, a family member, a friend, or even a complete stranger. True love encompasses the selflessness that leads to real happiness. I think if I could pick attribute of Jesus Christ to develop is the love with which he served all mankind. That's the beauty of the gospel of Christ, even if you don't believe in Christianity, everyone can understand and for the most part agree with it's most basic principle, love your fellow man even as thyself. In my personal opinion, there is nothing more miraculous than true, undaunted love.
I hope that this doesn't come across as self-righteous, but I think if we took more time to recognize the little miracles in our lives everyday, we'd be more aware of those around us, and more willing to help those in need. I also believe if we were more conscious about what miracles were constantly surrounding us, our lives would seem a little easier to live and those close to us would be easier to love. Now that I've said my peace, let me know what you think, I'd love to hear your opinions!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Why Jimmer is America's Valentine...

Throughout my life I've learned that certain individuals hold a unique power to break down wall s and boundaries for the overall welfare of mankind. Some of these individuals include Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Princess Diana, and as of late Jimmer Fredette. Although comparing Jimmer to social reformers such as Mother Teresa might seem a little extreme, the fact of the matter is that Jimmer is gaining a fan base in places never thought possible for any BYU basketball player. I'm a current student at the University of Utah, but I grew up a BYU fan my whole life and up to this point have had to keep my secret fondness for the Cougars a secret on campus. However, recently a friend of mine pointed out a sign in a building on campus that read “In Jimmer We Trust.” Jimmer Fever has even struck Salt Lake City. I first noticed the fever begin to spread last year while watching the Cougars play the Florida Gators in the NCAA tournament. I was sitting in the library when all of the sudden I began to hear cheers for the Jimmer scoring 38 and having enough grace to smile and wave for the camera during the middle of the second overtime. It was at that moment that I realized that Jimmer was something special. Then in January, I sat in the Huntsman Center watching Fredette put on one of the most amazing performances of his career on his rival's home court. Logic would say that this would upset the home fans, especially the student section, but instead all I could hear was praise for the mythological being known as the Jimmer. Since then I've had students on campus ask me if I have seen the Court Intruder youtube video, just today while I was shooting around in the gym, I had someone say that was a Jimmer Shot. A diehard Ute fan friend of mine told me that he has a man crush on Jimmer, another told me that he had to wear a Ute hat while watching the BYU-New Mexico game just so he didn't become converted to Jimmerism or better yet Cougarism, by taking time out of his schedule to watch the BYU-New Mexico game shows that he's already a convert to Jimmerism. On multiple occasions I've seen Ute students praising the near perfect performance of Jimmer against San Diego State. This shouldn’t be happening, there is no way that these are the same students who wear Max Hall hates me shirts on campus, the same fans who take pleasure in putting all sorts of profanity next to the name of BYU during football season. This is the impact that Jimmer Fredette has on society.
This is just the beginning of the impact of Jimmer, what may be more impressive is that the nation has embraced a Mormon kid as a national icon. In a time where religious prejudices are at an all-time high and so-called tolerance is discriminating against all things relating to heaven and hell, Jimmer is an enigma. Similar sports figures like Tim Tebow and Dwight Howard have been criticized as being over-zealous for openly living their religion. Mitt Romney was attacked at various points during his recent presidential campaign for being religious, or more specifically, a Mormon. This makes the national appeal of Fredette even more miraculous, he's managed to break down another hypothetical barrier. So the question that has to be asked is what is it about Jimmer that makes him so likeable?
I honestly believe that Jimmer isn't just appealing because he's a great basketball player, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are great players but aren't exactly likable. I don't think that it's just because he's fun to watch. I think that the main reason that Jimmer is so likeable is because he's so real. Many times in modern athletics, superstars are full of themselves, think of Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and a plethora of other sports stars who are defined the size of their egos. Enter Jimmer, not yet corrupted by the money of the NBA, he recognizes that Basketball is a team game and the ultimate goal is to be victorious. He has said on multiple occasions that a deep run in the NCAA tourney is a lot more important to him than winning player of the year. The first thing that he does after going off for 40+ points is talk about how great the screens his teammates set were. Yet at the same time, he admits that he would have like to score 50 against Utah this season. He's real and that's something many professional athletes can't say. He still plays out of love for the game and that's hard to find in most sports. He genuinely looks like he's having fun instead of throwing a tantrum at officials and coaches. That's what makes Jimmer so refreshing and likable, he genuinely wants play the game and play his heart out every time he gets on the court. He's taught us that no matter what your religion or where you attend school, if you are genuine with people, people will respect you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Jerry Sloan will be Missed

Today the NBA lost one of the great coaches in the history of the league in Jerry Sloan, his 26 year career as a head coach established him as one of the most well respected and productive coaches in the league. His 23 year tenure with the Utah Jazz established him as the longest tenured coach with one team in NBA history. He was a model of consistency and toughness around the league. In his 23 years in Utah, he had all of one losing season, which is miraculous considering that he almost lead a team spearheaded by Carlos Arroyo, Matt Harpring, Raja Bell, and Andrei Kirilenko to the playoffs when most of those players, with the exception of Kirilenko, would be considered average role players on decent teams. The argument could be made that this year's version of the Cleveland Cavaliers have more talent than that Jazz team, however the results were completely different. Yet while I sit here pondering the day's event, something sour sits in my mouth, this shouldn't be the way that an NBA icon leaves the game.
It feels all too similar to Bobby Bowden being forced out of Florida State, Stan Van Gundy resigning as coach as the Miami Heat. In a season filled with conversation about "the decision" and Carmelo Anthony trade rumors, the last thing we needed were rumors of a power struggle between Sloan and All-Star point guard Deron Williams. Whether or not the rumors are true isn't really what's important, it's the fact that players are putting themselves before the team. What happened to the days of Cal Ripken Jr. and Dan Marino, where you make the best of the situation given to you? It's a sad day when Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera have to fight to stay with the team that they've been loyal to for over 15 years. Now Sloan, the epitome of stability and loyalty, is seemingly forced out of Salt Lake. As a Jazz fan, I've always loved Deron's desire and tenacity to drive his team to victory, and at times, I've wanted Sloan to retire to bring in fresh blood and energy to the team, however this situation doesn't seem like the way for one of the most respected figures in all of professional athletics to leave. It reminds me a lot of a song by Ben Folds called Fred Jones Pt. 2
"Fred sits alone at his desk in the dark
There's an awkward young shadow that waits in the hall,
He's cleared all his things and he's put them in boxes
Things that remind him: 'Life has been good'
Twenty-five years
He's worked at the paper
A man's here to take him downstairs
And I'm sorry, Mr. Jones
It's time"
The situation between Jerry and Deron is too unfortunate, as I hear details come forth, I can't help but feel a little like when I was watching Mark Zuckerburg screw over his best friend in The Social Network. Deron wouldn't be where he is now without Jerry and honestly the past five years probably wouldn't have been as productive as they have been for Jerry without Deron, but as they say, all is fair in love and war, but just like the movies, you never hear about the boy left with the broken heart or the soldier left dead on the battlefield.