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Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Image matters

A new Marine Corps policy restricting body tattoos might set a useful example for college athletic programs.

April 4, 2007

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A week or so ago, a top U.S. Marine Corps general announced a new policy for Marines concerning body tattoos. The general said no tattoos should be placed below the elbow or below the knees and that, if tattoos were placed in such locations, the Marines involved likely would be asked to resign from the Corps.

He said the excessive number of tattoos on exposed parts of the body did not reflect well on the Marine Corps and its position as an elite military force of the United States.

Perhaps some U.S. basketball coaches and athletic directors should take note of the Marine Corps policy.

Some U.S. basketball players seem to be running out of space for their tattoos because their arms, legs and necks already are covered with the body art.

On the other hand, with money and winning being the primary goal of most athletic directors, chances are any thought of banning or limiting tattoos would be tossed in the wastebasket if it meant not getting a letter of commitment from a heavily tattooed all-star basketball player who could score, dunk, defend and even make passing grades.

What's best for the U.S. Marine Corps may not be best for a winning college basketball program. Maybe it would be better to suggest that although the Marine Corps policy might be best for the image of a university and its much stressed and favored "student athlete" image, it is not a policy in today's environment that would help improve a team's win-loss record.

Unfortunately, that, along with the dollars such a program generates, is the top priority of athletic directors, coaches and chancellors.

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