There has been a lot of hubbub lately about Jimmer Fredette.
For those of you who read this blog and are a little further removed from BYU and don't follow college basketball, Jimmer (James) is the point guard for the BYU basketball team, is the leading scorer in the country this year and has been named the National Player of the Year by many media outlets. He is widely regarded as the best and most interesting player to watch in college basketball. He is by far the biggest story to come out of BYU in recent history, and has been the subject of countless articles and news stories over the past few months.
With all this said you may yet be wondering why I'm dedicating a blog post and likely a fair amount of time to writing about him. Well, as luck would have it I have a reason and I'm going to tell you...Currently BYU is right in the middle of an incredible NCAA tournament run. Again for those who don't follow college basketball: There are 68 teams to start and over the course of 3 weeks each team plays until they lose and only one champion remains. BYU is currently in the final 16, popularly referred to as the sweet sixteen. So far BYU has beaten Wofford and Gonzaga and they will face Florida on Thursday. On Saturday, after BYU defeated Gonzaga I was listening to the radio and the announcer was describing the atmosphere at the game. The game was in Denver but he said it felt like "Provo East" and that the word he used to describe the adoration and enthusiasm for Jimmer was "idolatry". Many students at BYU have made similar remarks and some have been severely criticized for their declarations - just search "Michelle Peralta".
So finally I will tell you what my point is. We ARE idolizing Jimmer. By we I mostly mean me, though I'm sure at least someone out there is very similar to me. To make it easier I'm just gonna break it down by definitions and numbers.
Idolatry (according to Merriam-Webster) -
1) the worship of a physical object as a god
2) immoderate attachment or devotion to something
I think I mostly fall under definition number 2 here, but both are relevant. Now what evidence do I have to back that up?
For the week of March 14th:
Time spent in devotion to God:
Prayers: ~1 hour
Scripture study: ~ 2 hours
Church: ~3 hours
Total time devoted to God: ~ 5 hours
Time spent in devotion to Jimmer:
Jimmer study (online articles): ~ 2 hours
Jimmer church (watching his 2 games): ~ 4 hours
Total time devoted to Jimmer: ~ 6 hours
I'm guessing those numbers won't be the exact same for you but they should be fairly similar for most other church-going basketball fans.
Now you may argue, "But wait, with this reasoning I'm also worshiping my Professors. I spend 3 hours in their class and 5 hours reading for their class. That's even more than Jimmer!"
This is where it differs. When you're sitting in church - clearly a place for devotion to God - do you ever start chatting with the person next to you about the latest on Professor ______. If your Professor has a poor teaching performance does it ruin your week?
I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about this and reading about idolatry but I didn't want to bore you with that here. I will share one quote I found from this talk by President Kimball:
"As I study ancient scripture, I am more and more convinced that there is significance in the fact that the commandment “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” is the first of the Ten Commandments. Few men have ever knowingly and deliberately chosen to reject God and his blessings. Rather, we learn from the scriptures that because the exercise of faith has always
appeared to be more difficult than relying on things more immediately at hand, carnal man has tended to transfer his trust in God to material things."
Obviously, we're not all terrible people for enjoying watching Jimmer. I think we should celebrate excellence in all forms. He has proven that even without the prototypical body type or physical characteristics, anyone can do great things. His performances have inspired me and many others. I'm sure his talent and his story have led several people to seek out more information about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he has done an incredible amount of good. But, as we prepare for this Easter season and turn our focus to our Savior Jesus Christ, I thought it a good time for me to check myself and I hope that we can all find ways to improve.
Am I crazy, are we really worshiping Jimmer?
Yes, I will be watching on Thursday night. (5:30 MST, on CBS)