A plethora of technical issues will prevent much discussion (’round here, anyway) of the end of the nasty Spurs dynasty, but on the sociological front, Fox Sports’ Professor Jason Whitlock claims “there’s one issue driving improved ratings that likely won’t be touched by all the NBA talking heads on TNT and ESPN. Tattoos. Or rather the lack of tattoos in the conference finals.” Good thing those championship contenders narrowly avoided trading for J-Will, huh?

Part of the reason more people are watching these playoffs is because the average fan isn’t constantly repulsed by the appearance of most of the players on the court. Most of the key players left in the playoffs don’t look like recent prison parolees.

The only accurate way to describe Garnett, Pierce, Duncan, Allen, Manu, Parker and even Kobe is “clean cut.” Yeah, there are a couple of tattoos in that group ” Duncan has something on his back, Kobe still has his post-rape-allegation tat ” but the Lakers, Spurs and Celtics have far less ink on average than your typical NBA franchise.

Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony have more tats on their hands than the entire Spurs roster.

I know many of you probably think the number of tattoos doesn’t influence viewing habits. You’re wrong. Like everything else televised, appearances matter. There’s a reason you don’t see nude scenes in movies with fat people. Trust me, fat people have sex. It’s just no one wants to see it. Not even fat people.

No one wants to watch Delonte West or Larry Hughes play basketball. It’s uncomfortable and disconcerting. You don’t want your kids to see it. You don’t want your kids to think they should decorate their neck, arms, hands, chest and legs in paint. You don’t want to waste time explaining to your kids that some millionaire athletes have so little genuine self-confidence that they find it necessary to cover themselves in tattoos as a way to mask their insecurities.

It’s a fascinating argument, and one you can instantly flush down the toilet when you consider the appearances of ink devotees Shaq or Dennis Rodman never caused one hoops fan to change the channel. Or, to point to the very series still undecided, has Big Sexy not noticed the arms of Rip Hamilton or Rasheed Wallace?