Times and Seasons’ 2011 Mormon of the Year: Jimmer Fredette

January 15, 2012 | 13 comments
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Times and Seasons has selected Jimmer Fredette as Mormon of the Year for 2011.

James Taft “Jimmer” Fredette began 2011 leading BYU’s basketball team to the NCAA championships, leading many to expect that the team might make the later rounds of the playoffs. While those hopes were unrealized (in part due to the sudden withdrawal of BYU’s next most important player, Brandon Davies), BYU’s performance in the tournament set a high point that hasn’t been rivaled by a BYU team since 1981, and Jimmer earned every major National Player of the Year honor, including the Wooden Award, the Naismith Award, the Adolph Rupp Trophy, and the Oscar Robertson Trophy.

After finishing the season and graduating, Fredette was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks, who promptly traded him to the Sacramento Kings as part of a previously arranged deal. Although his first season was cut short by the basketball strike this past year, Fredette played his first game December 17th. He is currently the only Mormon playing in the NBA.

Central to Fredette’s impact is his popularity among Mormons, which was so strong that it attracted national attention, coining terms like “Jimmermania.” Particularly fascinating, in our social-networking informed world, were the reactions to an early February Facebook post attacking Jimmermania, which extended to something like 600 comments in less than 10 hours (250 in one hour alone — see the archive here – no, I didn’t count them). The thread itself was mentioned on ESPN, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo, the Deseret News and dozens of sports websites and blogs.

Like our selection of Elizabeth Smart last year, Jimmer is still young and has many years ahead of him. While his performance in the NBA hasn’t gained him much of a following outside of BYU fans, he can reasonably be expected to play in the NBA for years to come.

The Mormon of the Year designation is a recognition of the effect that a person or group has had during the past year. It is not a prize or award, so nothing of value is being given to anyone as a result of this designation, and it is not necessarily meant to honor the person or persons recognized, so no effort will be made to contact or notify Jimmer.

We were very pleased by the interest in selecting the Mormon of the Year. Times and Seasons readers nominated 21 possible candidates in addition to the original 5. We learned a lot from those nominations, especially the range of our readers’ beliefs and feelings. Some of the Mormons we learned have done significant things and deserve to be on a list of possible Mormons of the Year.

The LDS Church’s First Presidency (including the Prophet) and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were excluded from nominations.

We also appreciate those who participated in our online vote or commented on the nominations, which taught us a lot about the passion that many people have for those that they admire. Nearly 600 people voted in our poll (up substantially from last year), including many readers new to Times and Seasons. We hope that those who dropped by enjoyed Times and Seasons and will visit us again.

Please plan on participating in next year’s Mormon of the Year nominations. I’m sure that many of the nominees will show up next year, and those of us who were unfamiliar with some of the nominees can use that time to become more familiar with them. Certainly we will re-nominate some of them next year. And, as we discovered this year, the changing nominations make the selection process very different each year.

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13 Responses to Times and Seasons’ 2011 Mormon of the Year: Jimmer Fredette

  1. Alison Moore Smith on January 15, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Let me be the first to send congratulations (and high fives) to the Jimmer.

  2. Jax on January 15, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    What are the early odds of Romney winning “Mormon of the Year” next year if he gets the Republican nomination (as appears likely)? And what if defeats Obama (which is questionable)? If either of those happen then the press for the LDS church (both positive and negative) will be astounding… could anyone else compete to win this ‘award’ next year if either of those happen?

  3. Tim on January 15, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Jax–that’s one of the reasons I voted for Jimmer this time around. I put Romney’s chances at getting next year’s award at around 90%, if not higher…

  4. RobF on January 15, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    We went to see his first NBA start this week in Philly. Fun to get out and support The Jimmer!

  5. Cynthia L. on January 15, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Congratulations to Jimmer.

    I would have liked to see Brandon Flowers take the title, but really as a proxy for all the wonderful, colorful members profiled in the “I’m a Mormon” videos, and those church staff responsible for the campaign.

    But Jimmer is a very worthy choice as well. Hard to argue with a profile that high, and someone who is such a nice ambassador.

  6. Kaimi on January 15, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Well, I personally thought that the designation ought to go to one of the other nominees. And I think it’s safe to say that at least a few of my co-bloggers agreed.

    But, I understand the appeal that Fredette has for many church members. Congratulations to Jimmer, and to all of the nominees.

  7. Kaimi on January 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm
  8. Rameumptom on January 15, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Yawn!!!!

    Obviously, BYU alumni need to watch more television than just BYU TV and sports. While Jimmer is a good example of Mormonism, his is just a blip compared to others on the list of nominees.

    Now, if you want to see a real voting process, see who won the Boggs/Doniphan award. In that case, the thinkers selected the best choice of all, even though Ardis Parshall boycotted.

  9. Kent Larsen on January 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Ram. sounds like you are suggesting that no sports personality can have as much impact as a politician or something.

    We do try to look at all aspects of impact — not just the intellectual impact. As for the Boggs/Doniphan, I don’t see your point. They selected the obvious choice — it wasn’t very hard to see that selection at all. Who else would they have selected?

    This year, like last year, unless you want to choose Romney multiple years in arow, there was not an obvious choice for Mormon of the Year — no one with a clearly more significant impact.

    I think we made a good choice.

  10. Cynthia L. on January 15, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Thanks for the vote (so to speak) of confidence, Ram, but I’m not sure we did anything special and it wasn’t much of a vote. Bit of a no-brainer this year on the non-Mormon side. Mormon was a much tougher call.

    Personally, I think for both the Gentile and Mormon contests–but especially for the Mormon contest–much of the interest and honor is just in the nomination phase. Who ends up being the one winner is sometimes such a tough call that it’s almost a shame that it has to be done (but otherwise there’d be no award). So often it involves comparing individuals whose contributions and attributes are really apples and oranges.

  11. el oso on January 15, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Congratulations Jimmer. I think that he owes part of the award to his fellow BYU student, Michelle.
    As for the 2012 award, I think that Romney is very likely to win, since he is looking more and more like the Republican presidential nominee. So, will we see any news articles about Obama’s family connection to Mormonism during the election?

  12. Romney / Huntsman 2012 on January 16, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Great choice. It gives the award credibility.

  13. Rachel Whipple on January 16, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    I will say that sports are a great way to spread general name recognition of BYU and the LDS church throughout the country. In the small, rural Texas town I grew up in, everyone in my high school knew about BYU because of football. Pretty much everyone was Christian (not Catholic, not Mormon), but football as a cultural institution trumps all those differences.