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November 10, 2000|LARRY STEWART

What: "Out of Bounds"

Where: Court TV's "Crime Stories"

When: Tonight, 6

Give Court TV and producers Carolyn Kresky and Judith Bishop credit. They have chosen to tackle an enormous topic--athletes and the law--in a one-hour, low-budget production. What makes up for a lack of high quality, slick production is a panel that talks intelligently about a difficult, complex subject.

The panel includes ABC's Lynn Swann, who along with Court TV anchor Rikki Klieman serves as co-host of the program, Kevin Johnson, former Phoenix Sun star, and Don McPherson, former Syracuse and Philadelphia Eagle quarterback who is now associate director of Athletes Helping Athletes. The other panelists are Craig Fenech, a sports agent, and Jeff Benedict, author of "Pros and Cons."

To set the tone, there is a brief review of some of the recent high-profile cases involving athletes--Ray Lewis, Rae Carruth, Mark Chmura, Latrell Sprewell. Bob Knight and Mike Tyson and their misbehavior are also mentioned.

Johnson talks about the breakdown of families and also about how young athletes are made to feel they are entitled to certain privileges. McPherson talks about how young men are "given millions of dollars, then asked to behave."

The program examines the forces at play, including the "posse" phenomenon. Athletes attract entourages. Fenech says he warns his clients: "You now have a bull's-eye on your forehead." Benedict notes that the athletes who don't have a father usually end up with a posse.

Swann points out it may be OK to have a posse, but what is important "is how you carry yourself." Says Swann: "No one would call the friends of Tiger Woods a posse."

Issues such as domestic violence--the No. 1 crime among athletes--drug and steroid use are also dealt with.

In the final segment, the panel is asked for solutions. Swann points to Johnson's foundation and his work with kids. "You have to teach them there is a positive path," Swann says.

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