The Adjudicatory Audible: The Impact of Social Media on the Punishments of NFL Athletes
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Under its Collective Bargaining Agreement, the National Football League (NFL) has the ability to punish players who have been charged with a crime or arrested. Individual teams have the ability to punish players for off-field conduct, most commonly by releasing them to free agency; however, their authority is extremely limited. Thus, the power to discipline players is bestowed overwhelmingly to the commissioner’s office, which has assigned league discipline to 28.6% of arrests between 2000 and 2014. The severity of these punishments only increased slightly between 2000 and 2014; however, there exists a statistically significant, positive relationship between the number of Tweets about a crime and the severity of punishment of the resulting NFL punishment. Most disquieting, more-valuable players are punished less severely than less-valuable players, measured in terms of both better fantasy football rankings and in higher salaries. The results of this study clearly demonstrate that league punishment of NFL players is determined by the public response to the crime, and that the commissioner’s office allows for better players to escape more-severe punishments—or punishments at all—more frequently than their worse-performing counterparts. An impartial, independent arbiter, as opposed to an all-powerful commissioner’s office, would more effectively grant punishments that fit the crime as opposed to the degree of public outrage.
DepartmentPublic Policy Studies
CitationLazarus, Danielle (2016). The Adjudicatory Audible: The Impact of Social Media on the Punishments of NFL Athletes. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/11562.
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Rights for Collection: Undergraduate Honors Theses and Student papers