This thesis project was a response to the NFL's struggles with domestic violence in the recent past. To contextualize the issue, this paper examines key domestic violence statistics and rates in the United States. Also discussed are the issues that United States law enforcement has with domestic violence cases, namely a problem with under-reporting and inconsistent arrest policies from state to state. Controversy surrounding NFL players and domestic violence was sparked by Ray Rice's arrest in 2014 and exacerbated by the league's light discipline of Rice. This paper attempts to uncover the root causes of the NFL's domestic violence problem and identifies issues the league has in terms of its inconsistent punishment history for domestic violence offenses, recent arrest trends for NFL players and the efforts the league and its members have made to combat the issue. Also considered are the ways the NFL has attempted to resolve the issue of domestic violence. The paper examines the policies set forth in the NFL's personal conduct policy as well as partnerships the league has made with nationwide organizations dedicated to education and prevention of domestic violence, including NO MORE and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. This thesis also compares the NFL's policies regarding domestic violence to that of its peers, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. Lastly, the thesis offers several recommendations to the NFL for how it can rectify its prior shortcomings. These recommendations include revamped education programs for players, heightened disciplinary standards and more open communication with fans and outsiders.
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