Authors: Sam Belkin(a) & R. Dale Sheptak Jr(b)
Sam Belkin, MA
(a) Department of Sociology, University of Leicester, Leicester, England.
(b) Department of Health, Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, Ohio, USA.
Talking Bodies: Athletes & Tattoos as Nonverbal Communication
Dennis Rodman, the quintessential example of deviant behavior as a player in professional basketball, along with Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen fast tracked the normalization of tattoos in the National Basketball Association. Still considered deviant behavior in Western societies, the prominence of highly visible tattoos in the NBA and collegiate basketball world has been growing rapidly. In this article, we discuss how professional and collegiate basketball players perceive tattoos in regard to identity and performance. We focus on how tattoos act as a channel for nonverbal communication in this population. Through these two topics, players avertedly or inadvertently address the interplay of tattoos and identity as well as how tattoos inform social groups. With the increased visual media presence of players through social media, smart phones, the internet, and other forms of technology, the necessity of understanding what role tattoos have among the players cannot be understated.