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Image and Appearance

by: Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web

I recently had a young man send me an email regarding his facial hair and my opinion regarding coaches and professional scouts and their reactions to players with “hair.”

I was impressed with his question and thought process. The following is my outlook on the issue of a high school player and facial hair.

I have asked the question:
“How important is a player's physical appearance? I do not mean is he 6'-1" tall and weighs 205 lbs. What I am referring to is tattoos, body piercing, odd hair styles, manner of dress etc. Are any or all of these items a "negative" when a college coach sees a prospective player?”

In every interview with a college coach and professional scout – that we have done on the High School Baseball Web. Follow this link to our Interview Section

The answers varied from coach to coach and scout to scout. All agreed that if the player were the next Alex Rodriguez or Roger Clemens they would be able to overlook these items.

However for the average high school player that has the ability to play at the college level the answers were important. Some coaches did not seem to mind or care one way or the other about facial hair.

Other coaches are “turned off” by long hair, facial hair and tattoos, not to mention body piercing.

Why is this important to a high school player?

It obviously reduces the potential schools that may be interested in a player. What if it eliminates a player’s favorite school from the mix?

As we recommend here on the web site …. A player should never fail to return a questionnaire to a college baseball program. You never want to eliminate possible choices.

In a sense a player with facial hair (neat or not) is possibly eliminating schools.

You may have heard the term “that player has a good face” when being described by a scout or coach. What does that mean? Many times it is a reference to a player having a baby face … not even shaving yet. A possible indicator that the player is not done growing yet.

By openly displaying facial hair a player is advertising that he is well on his way to physical maturity.

I understand the argument about young men wanting to assert their manhood, rights of passage, etc. However keep this in mind… the college coaches and pro scouts are almost always clean cut, well groomed with shorter hair individuals.

Just as I would be uncomfortable around folks with purple hair, nose rings and other adornments – so would a college coach be uncomfortable around a young person that does not look similar to them. That’s simple human nature.

I have had discussions with parents about “freedom of expression” and similar comments. I completely disagree with ALL of those excuses.

Keep in mind that the name of this game is exposure and “marketing” for your player. As of this writing I have never seen a ZZ Top “look alike” scouting a high school player.

Smart advertisers market to the target demographics. Smart coaches, players and parents are aware of the target demographics as well…….. The college coach and professional baseball scout.

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