BYU's Jimmer Fredette: The Greatest Mormon Missionary in the World

Scott LambsonContributor IIIFebruary 9, 2011

Jimmer Fredette mania has taken over the media world.

Whether it's ESPN, Sports Illustrated, or Kevin Durant's twitter account, the great Jimmer has captured the attention of millions.

And while he was recently labeled by Kevin Durant as the "greatest scorer in the world," I will now boldly proclaim that Jimmer Fredette is the "greatest Mormon missionary in the world."

How can that be, you ask? Didn't Jimmer choose not to serve a Mormon mission?

Well, maybe not the mission we have all become accustomed to, but he is certainly a man that is generating a lot of attention about his Mormon faith, and he seems to be handling himself just fine with the millions of curious onlookers asking questions about him and his religion.

Other than maybe Mitt Romney, I don't know of a more popular Mormon right now than Jimmer.

Immediately following Jimmer's interview with ESPN's John Buccigross, in which Buccigross asked Jimmer many questions about the Mormon church, I began receiving calls and text messages from different people I know living across the United States.

The questions went something like this:

Do you have to be Mormon to get into BYU?

What is the purpose of BYU?

Why is it okay that Jimmer didn't go on a mission?

What's so important about the Mormon faith that Buccigross would even ask Jimmer about it?

And as the questions came my way, I did my best to answer them, just as I'm sure thousands of BYU fans have done in the aftermath of Jimmer-mania.

Whether you like it or not, the Mormon church and BYU sports are inseparable. It's a fact some Mormons just don't like to admit, mainly Mormons who openly cheer against BYU, and yes, believe it or not, there are a few Mormons who do just that. The majority of them are Utah Utes fans.

Needles to say it can be a sensitive topic, and I'm sure a few Mormons are cringing as they read this right now. After all, Mormons can be extremely self-conscious about their religion and the way it's perceived.

If you are a Mormon, and you believe in your faith, it makes little sense to cheer against the success of BYU sports. Because when BYU sports do well on the national stage, it makes the world pay attention and ask questions. And at the end of the day, the Mormon church is a missionary church, with a strong emphasis on sharing their message with the world.

In short, BYU is what it is, and no matter how you slice it, almost everybody in the world associates BYU sports with the Mormon church. Why not just embrace it, as Jimmer has, as he openly talks about what it means to play for BYU and what it means to be a Mormon?

Let's be real clear about what BYU is: a private university, owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, known to the world as Mormons.

It is the Mormon church's flagship institution.

Any major decisions that need to be made at BYU, such as the recent decision to declare independence in football, must get approval from the President of the Church, known to all Mormons as a living prophet, seer, and revelator, a man who receives guidance and inspiration directly from God.

Now I know that seems like too much information for a Bleacher Report article, but like I said, it is what it is, and there shouldn't be any shame in that.

BYU is a unique university and it has its own set of rules. The institution is held to a higher standard by those from within and those who view it from afar.

The Mormons already have one of the largest, if not, the largest missionary force in the world. Yet the number one reason BYU claimed for going independent in football and signing a deal with ESPN was for more exposure.

Why does the Mormon church care if BYU sports teams get more exposure?

Because it matters.

To the leaders of the church, BYU sports is seen as another great missionary tool to get their message out there.

It's nothing new, it always been that way.

However, BYU has never had a media sensation quite like Jimmer Fredette. Yes they have had famous players, like Danny Ainge, Ty Detmer, and Shawn Bradley, but none have had the impact that Jimmer has had.

To be fair, it's partly because the others didn't live in the over-saturated media environment we now live in.

But, in all fairness to Jimmer, he has earned every bit of it. Jimmer has been an incredible ambassador for BYU and the Mormon church.

He's clean cut, classy, respectful, and always gives credit to others before himself. He's also a very good basketball player, did I mention that?

He understands that when people view him and his actions, it will be a direct reflection upon his school and his faith.

It's a standard that all BYU players are held to, and while most have handled it well, few have handled it with as much class and dignity as Jimmer has, especially with the spotlight shining on him as bright as it has been.

So, in the aftermath of Jimmer-mania and for those of you curious about the above questions, I'll answer them for you.

Do you have to be Mormon to get into BYU?

No, but you must live by Mormon standards while enrolled on campus.

What is the mission of BYU?

"To assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life. That assistance should provide a period of intensive learning in a stimulating setting where a commitment to excellence is expected and the full realization of human potential is pursued."

Why is it okay that Jimmer didn't go on a mission?

While it is strongly encouraged that nineteen year-old Mormon men serve a mission, it is not mandatory.

Why is the Mormon church so important that John Buccigross would ask Jimmer about why he joined it?

Because BYU and the Mormon church are inseparable. Also, because people perceive the church as something difficult to be a part of, and therefore they are genuinely interested in why one would choose to become a member of something difficult to live.

Oh and by the way, any further questions should be directed to Jimmer Fredette, the "Greatest Mormon Missionary in the world."