Date of Publication

Winter 12-7-2017

Document Type

Undergraduate Project

Professor's Name

Dr. Katharine Burakowski


This study was conducted to examine the relationship that existed between domestic violence incidents involving National Football League (NFL) players and the popularity of the league. With more media coverage on players’ off the field exploits there was potential that players committing crimes as heinous as domestic violence was having an impact on how fans consumed the NFL’s products. This was initially sparked by the widely publicized incident featuring former Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice. As the league struggled to figure out on how to best handle player discipline for domestic violence the public opinion of the NFL diminished.

Fan behavior was the measurable component for NFL popularity and was examined by looking at metrics such as television viewership and game attendance. Domestic violence incidents were totaled from an NFL player arrest database. The incidents were examined for physical violence and any resulting player releases. By compiling secondary data describing fan behavior and comparing it to total domestic violence incidents among NFL players it could be seen that fan behavior was generally unchanged by NFL players committing domestic violence. The study provided a look into the impact of players off field behavior on the business of the NFL.

What was found was there was not conclusive evidence that a relationship between domestic violence in the NFL and the league’s popularity exists. Despite predictions that fan behavior display a noticeable change in relation to domestic violence incidents in the NFL, the data did not reflect such a finding, and statistical tests did not reflect a significant relationship. For the NFL, it may reveal that behavior of their fans, such as attending games or consuming NFL products from home, may not be hampered by the off the field follies of the league’s players. However, having already weathered a storm of criticism regarding the league’s policies and demeanor towards domestic violence, understanding how people respond to such incidents could prove critical for the NFL long term.