Out of Bounds: Inside the NBA's culture of Rape, Violence, and Crime Book Review

I recently finished Out of Bounds, a book about the escalating crime problems in the NBA especially when it comes to the abuse of women. I didn't know what to expect from this book going into it. I was skeptical, but at the same time wanted to see how bad it really was.   Reading the first chapter I was scared that upon finishing the book that I would hate the NBA, but that didn't really happen.

I just hate Ruben Patterson.

While meticulously researched, the book really only builds a few strong cases Patterson (rape) and Glenn Robinson (domestic violence) come to mind.   It does a nice job illustrating how athletes have people bailing them out of their problems no matter how bad they are, but I think the book is missing the boat that it's not rich athletes with this situation, it's rich "anyone".

His overall view is somewhat of a condemnation of the life of an athlete or celebrity.  A view that I largely agree with, but I see no stopping it.   It's not the celebrity's fault, but the people who worship them.   Heck, I'm more to blame for spending so much time on a Bulls blog for fans than the athlete is for being famous.  

Imagine you are someone who has always been catered to for your whole life.   You live on the road for half the year and work from 6 pm to 11pm or so on a typical night.   You're rich, famous, bored, and your free time is between 11pm and 4-5am.   Many of the women you meet are dying to sleep with you to brag about it to their friends.   What kind of patterns would most people fall into under those circumstances?

The author spends relatively little time discussing how to solve these issues.  His biggest point though is actually that it's not the NBA's fault.  The NBA is a business which has to protect it's reputation and hide these issues.  He blames the colleges for the attitude of entitlement which gets built up there.  Saying the schools have a moral obligation to live up to higher standards being that they aren't for profit businesses.

While I agree that colleges should have a moral obligation to do better given the fact that college basketball is bigger than pro basketball makes this awfully unlikely.  Also, given that this book was only authored a couple of years ago, it's surprising that he doesn't leap to the conclusion that these problems start long before college.

Superior athletes are treated differently from the moment they are identified as superior.  These breaks come for them as early as their earliest little leagues by coaches who are over enthused about having talented players.   Also, psychologically, the impact of the deferential treatment is largest at the youngest age.

In the end, the book didn't quite deliver all that it promised to me.  There were parts of the book that left me disgusted, but they largely seemed isolated to a few players.   Most of the big names in the book were accused without any real evidence against them.  I didn't come away feeling shocked and devastated by the corruption of the NBA athlete on the whole, but rather just a few individuals whom I already disliked.

Final rating: 4/10.

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  • Doug, thanks for your insightful review. It seems in America people will overlook any outrageous behavior by celebrities. They are there to entertain us. To relieve us from our daily troubles. So what if Babe Ruth was a glutton, womanizer, and binge drinker? He was loved by millions, including countless churchgoers who were admominished every Sunday from the pulpit about such behaviors. I have read many books about Michael Jordan and, quite frankly, I do not care for his off the court behavior, which was scandalous in my view and I'm no prude. Yet for so many years I was enthralled by his basketball skills. As to music and cinema, millions of people worldwide idolized Michael Jackson. Case closed.

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