It would be nice to think that in 2010 an athlete —- professional or amateur — could be judged on their performance (or the content of his or her character) rather than on something as flimsy as whether or not they’ve opted for a tattoo (or 8 dozen). For the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick — presumably tired of bitching about overpriced sneakers, cornrows and doo rags — said alterations indicate (gulp) a lack of smarts. (“I don’t care what your position is on this pop-cultural ‘advancement’ — whether you recognize that it’s another mainstreamed gift from our prison systems and street gangs — but you’ll admit that it seemed half the starters in this year’s tournament were covered with tattoos”)

Until biology and history majors can show and prove otherwise, the most susceptible to modern fashion seem to be on basketball scholarship to America’s most esteemed universities.

Heck, there were three guys who played for Tennessee yesterday whose exteriors looked as if they’d been held down and assaulted by a merciless mob of Etch-a-Sketches.

That makes me wonder. Having covered your arms, legs, chests, backs, hands and necks with permanent patterns and words — some fellas seem to have the Preamble of the Constitution (or Miranda Rights) inscribed down the length of their arms — how do they read what they had written, you know, to check for spelling?

If one is to look down at his tattoo, he sees it upside down. If he tries to admire it in a mirror, he sees it backward. Those grieving fellows who salute in skin art a deceased friend or relative may be startled to look into a mirror and read his memorial as “P.I.R.”

Anyone know, by chance, if Eric Hinske received a basketball scholarship? From this vantage point, it would either seem Phil’s not spent much time out of the house over the last two decades, or he takes special relish in mocking the intellectual capacities of a bunch of young people who just happen to be mostly black.