Date of Award


Degree Name



College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Richard Garnett

Second Advisor

K. P. Ambrose

Third Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


The purpose of this study was to determine whether Durkheim’s concept of anomie applies to National Football League players. This study was an attempt to discover if and why NFL players are more likely to commit deviant acts. Why do these players that seemingly have everything throw their lives away by committing crimes? This study attempts to address these questions by linking Durkheim’s classic anomie theory with the deviance in the NFL.

In Durkheim’s book, The Division of Labour in Society (1893), anomie emerges through society’s transition from mechanical to organic solidarity. In this, economic change is too fast for the growth of moral regulation to keep pace with increasing differentiation and specialization. With this, an abnormal or pathological division of labor occurs. Something similar to this is happening in today’s NFL. Benedict and Yaeger’s (1998) recent study showed that twenty-one percent of the players in the NFL have committed serious crimes. Because of the professionalization and commercialization of American sport, today’s professional athletes are suddenly making unbelievable amounts of money. With this instant wealth and power, comes a state of anomie, or an absence, breakdown, confusion, or conflict in these athlete’s lives. This, in turn, creates a more likely situation for deviance to occur.

The sample for this study was composed of in-depth interviews and personal conversations with current and former NFL players. The data acquired were used to assess if NFL players, after obtaining wealth and power, fall victim to a state of anomie. These players vividly described the NFL lifestyle and reinforced the very purpose of this study. The results of this study suggest that, indeed, the players of the National Football League, that let the fame and fortune take over their lives, are more prone to commit deviant acts.


National Football League.


Durkheimian school of sociology.

Deviant behavior – Case studies.

Football players.