JR Ball: Let’s treat Baton Rouge like we do LSU football

    Mediocrity is simply not an option when it comes to LSU football—just ask Les Miles, Business Report Executive Editor JR Ball writes in his latest column.

    Miles, despite being the second winningest coach in LSU history, couldn’t lead the Tigers to a second national title and was subsequently fired. But the embattled coach’s story, which takes place against the backdrop of Baton Rouge, leads Ball to consider another point: Why do we in Baton Rouge demand such unwavering excellence of our football team while simultaneously embracing something less than that for this city?

    “Inexplicably, we choose to ignore the remarkable potential of Baton Rouge,” he writes. “This is the home of the state’s flagship university, an institution capable of so much more than winning football games.” Similarly, Baton Rouge boasts outstanding regional medical facilities with amazing research potential.

    Also, while it’s good to celebrate having some of the friendliest people on the planet, at some point we have to stop ignoring the reality that Baton Rouge is divided by race and economics, Ball writes. “The finger-pointing and waiting for the ‘other side’ to make the first move must give way to taking those first difficult—and painful—steps together.”

    Baton Rouge, like every other American city, preaches the need to attract and retain young, educated professionals but has yet to make the quality of life changes needed to do so

    “Being a world-class city—or even America’s next great city—requires more than relaxing open container laws downtown, building a tram or, as we were once told, landing a Costco,” Ball writes, adding we’re good at spending money on football but not traffic improvements.

    One area, he notes, where the state, city and private sector have made a football-like investment: downtown Baton Rouge.

    “The transformation, frankly, has been astounding,” he says. It’s not perfect and there’s more to be done, but downtown’s rebirth is a shining example of what can happen when enough people expect and demand change.”
    Read the full column. Send your comments to editors@businessreport.com.

    View Comments