What’s With the Tats? Chefs and NBA Stars

In the only appropriate way to celebrate the season, today marks opening day of the NBA. And throughout the day, viewers will gaze upon a remarkable display of tattoos sported by the Association’s players.

As you all know, I’m a huge fan of Top Chef, and this season we’ve seen quite a display of tats, even on the otherwise meek Beverly.

And it lead me to wonder, what is it about these two professional subcultures that tattoos are expected?

A google search for “chef tattoos” turns up many results, such as “Chef Tattoos” and “Chef Tattoos: Top Chefs Share Their Ink”, but I haven’t found anything that helps dig into the more cultural/anthropological aspects of the tattoos — where did it come from, what does it signify, how is it used to establish in-and-out groups.

With the NBA, there’s clearly something going on with African-American street culture, quite possibly gang and prison culture, but for the life of me I cannot find any good explications of permeation of tattoos in the NBA, and what it means.

So, it looks like I’ll have to wait for Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry to get back to school. It turns out he’s writing his thesis “on the relationship between basketball players and tattoos.” I can’t wait!