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.

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