Alabama running back and Heisman frontrunner Derrick Henry won the SEC’s offensive player of the year award. But in the announcement of the award on the SEC’s Twitter page, something was definitely off.
Take a look at this picture of Henry:
— SEC (@SEC) December 9, 2015
And this one:
Notice anything missing?
Henry’s tattoos were photoshopped out by the SEC.
Why in the world would the SEC scrub out Henry’s tattoos? Not to cut right to the worst-case scenario here regarding the undertones and messages sent by erasing tattoos off of a star African American amateur athlete, but the fact that this happened right when Alabama’s AD joked that athletes were wasting money on “tattoos and rims“ is disconcerting. (One tweeter suggested a copyright infringement issue with the tattoos, which at least solves the SEC tweet, but still leaves the AD’s comments hanging out there uncomfortably and makes this a case of terrible timing.)
Yes, the athletes are the ones with the spending problems when coaches have $15 million buyouts and athletic departments are in financial strain with tens of millions in television revenue.
It seems like a lifetime ago when sportswriters were shaming Ohio State football players for getting tattoos and daring to besmirch the honor of amateur athletics and playing for pennies on the dollar. I thought we had moved beyond that mindset, but this story shows just how far the athletes still have to go.
UPDATE: Here’s the response from the SEC, which says the crimson tint of the photograph is what made Henry’s tattoos difficult to see. Call it a case of bad timing that it just so happened when Alabama’s AD made his controversial off-the-cuff remarks:
@awfulannouncing Textured use of Crimson made tattoos less prominent on this photo. Many photos of award winners clearly show tattoos.
— SEC (@SEC) December 10, 2015