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.