The Rising Tide

Those of you who know me, either personally or through the pages of Evansville Business, know that my oars don’t go too terribly deep into the water so from time to time I afford myself the opportunity to impart random information to clear my mind and help me remember where I left my car keys. So away we go.

This morning when I awakened at 4:55 to go for my 5:30 run, it was a balmy three degrees. With age comes a little bit of wisdom so I can assure you that my morning run was indoors on a track. My long time running companion, Michael, who is (believe it or not at 5:20) always early to pick me up, was of course already waiting when I came downstairs at 5:17 a.m. We both have found that it is more advantageous to our workout regimen if we rely on the other to force us out of our warm beds and onto the track. Our standing agreement is that if either of us is not up for the run that we can go to Denny’s to have breakfast. Over the last 20-something years, neither of us has ever exercised that option, although we have come remarkably close a few times. But this morning, sitting in the lobby of the fitness center without ever removing my warm-up clothes while drinking coffee, reading the paper, and watching the news, seems like the best idea. I don’t think I will be doing that again anytime soon; the insults from the gym faithful were fast and furious. After speaking to many others, I don’t feel like I’m alone in apathy after the horrendous winter that we are enduring and being more than a little winter-fatigued.

Yes, I know you’re just dying to know my thoughts on the Indiana University Medical School’s Evansville location. By now everyone in the community is very familiar with this project, which has the potential economic impact of $340 million by 2020, along with programs that will include more than 265 health professional students within three years of opening the campus. There has been a considerable debate that has occurred in the community and for some reason, many people have asked if I have any inside information because I am in the media business (I do not), and my wife is on the Indiana School of Medicine-Evansville Community Advisory Committee (she does not) as to where the ultimate location will be. While I have my own personal preference, this project reminds me very much of early discussion of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana, even prior to forming a Board of Directors. We were fresh off of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Inc. opening their new facility in Princeton, Ind. The one thing everyone involved in economic development has realized is that this type of investment in the region no matter the locale is certainly a rising tide for all boats. Toyota now employs 4,500 people and indirectly has contributed to an additional 12,910 jobs throughout the state. They have been a tremendous advocate in our community philanthropically and what I find most impressive is that when the economic downtown occurred in 2009, Toyota refused to lay off any of their team members. Instead they used that production downtime for training, reinvestment, and helping the communities in which they serve. So no matter where the IU Medical School decides to locate, I am very confident that this will be a remarkable win for our entire community and will create additional business spinoffs and opportunities in health and technology. Just look at what has transpired a mere 25 miles away.

An ongoing “issue” of mine and in these letters over the years is, as a long time youth sports coach, I have seen a continued decline of youth league sportsmanship. No matter what I write about on this page, nothing elicits as much agreement and conversation in my columns as the drastic need to reverse the continued slide and decline of youth league sportsmanship. For those of you who still are a part of the youth sports scene or perhaps have grandchildren playing, I am confident that you know what I mean. People are quick to dismiss this as a result of overzealous parents and at times that can be true, but as a front row observer I will tell you the main problem in an era of year-round travel sports are my fellow coaches. I think everyone aspires to represent themselves, their team, and their school in the best possible light but often are caught up in the heat of the moment and their best intentions go south, sometimes in a hurry. What I, as a coach, am prepared to advocate for is a zero tolerance policy toward any unacceptable behavior. I am tired of hearing about coaches being “talked to” every year about their behavior and then being allowed to continue to coach year after year. If you are unable to conduct yourself in a manner that imparts character, morals, and ethics on the children that play for you, then either straighten up or get out of the way. The rest of you, think for a minute about what you have witnessed at the gym, ballpark, soccer fields, etc. Are you comfortable with what you are seeing? Then have zero tolerance for it.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Todd A. Tucker

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