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Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 06/15/2004
ISBN: 0-06-072602-4
Format Reviewed:
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Genre:   Non-Fiction - Sports
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Jeff Shelby
Reviewer Notes:  

Out of Bounds
Inside the NBA's Culture of Rape, Violence & Crime
By Jeff Benedict

      Crimes committed by professional athletes are nothing new. Those who follow sports can reel off a number of names that have been charged with a crime or ended up in prison. Jeff Benedict has made a career of studying the relationships between violence and professional athletics. In his new book, Out of Bounds: Inside the NBA's Culture of Rape, Violence & Crime, Benedict examines the criminal histories of 177 NBA players from the 2001-2002 season and makes the assertion that four out of every ten players has a police record that contains a serious crime.

     The names that Benedict drops in his book are familiar to most basketball fans: Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Damon Stoudamire, Ruben Patterson, Bonzi Wells, Sam Mack, Glenn Robinson, Allen Iverson. All have had criminal complaints filed against them and the majority of those complaints involve some type of assault against women. Benedict provides explicit details to several of the alleged crimes and manages to unravel the legalese that entangles most of the cases in a very readable and accessible manner.

     If you aren't familiar with professional sports and the manner that athletes are treated, then the stunning arrogance with which the athletes act and the way the teams they play for continue to tolerate such behavior will come as a giant shock. Benedict details how teams regularly ignore or tritely explain away criminal behavior, preferring to concern themselves with making sure that they are able to put the best players possible out on the floor, regardless of whether they adhere to the law or not.

      While Benedict's condemnation of the NBA for regularly avoiding the issue and failing to discipline the athletes is well deserved, he could've added depth to the book by examining where the problem begins. When athletes are regularly given preferential treatment and not asked to answer the consequences of their actions beginning as early as grade school, it is no wonder that they continue that pattern as adults. That isn't the NBA's fault - it is society's. The NBA may perpetuate the problem, but they didn't start it and it would have been nice to see some discussion of that point.

       That minor complaint aside, Benedict's book is an intelligent examination of an ugly problem. NBA fans won't find much new information here - if you regularly read the sports page or any sports periodical, you've seen the individual stories - but they may be surprised at the numbers. Those who aren't fans of the league won't find reason to start watching games now, but they will find cause in joining with Benedict to demand that the league start forcing its players to abide by the laws the rest of us must adhere to.