Mayor Davis' Dangerous Fallacy of Composition

March 10, 2014 | Over the last several months, how many times has Mayor Gary Davis spoken of how Northern California, and Elk Grove...

March 10, 2014 |

Over the last several months, how many times has Mayor Gary Davis spoken of how Northern California, and Elk Grove specifically, by any number of different measures has the largest number of youth soccer players in the United States. As if to prove his point on this, and of course for the proposed aquatics center too, how many times has the mayor used the youth of our community as props for his own political purposes?

While the mayor and his supporters such as former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez have repeatedly asserted this, they have never accurately sited sources of their information.

We are not bringing up Davis' and Nunez's talking points and use of our community's youth for their own political benefit to question the accuracy of their claims, but rather to point to a missing link in their logic on why Elk Grove should build a professional-grade soccer stadium to land a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise. Specifically, the mayor, emboldened by Nunez, suggest Elk Grove's high youth soccer participation somehow ensures that professional soccer will automatically succeed here and all we need to make sure it happens is to build a $100 million stadium.

Anyone who was paying attention in high school economics class will undoubtedly remember this as a case study of fallacy of composition.

According to, a fallacy of composition is "the fallacy of inferring that a property of parts or members of a whole is also a property of the whole." In Elk Grove's case, Davis and Nunez state that since there are so many youth participating in soccer, that notwithstanding the financial burden placed on Elk Grove taxpayers and the progress Sacramento has already made in bringing an MLS team there, this venture is a slam dunk. 

It would be interesting if the mayor and Nunez would be willing to pay (out of their own pockets) a neutral third party pollster and survey former youth soccer players and see just where soccer ranks as a spectator activity compared to the other major sports. Our guess is that football, both professional and collegiate would rank first, then basketball, baseball (during the playoffs especially) and then maybe soccer or hockey. And even if a survey proves soccer is the number one spectator sport for the pool of fans Davis and Nunez point to, shouldn't this sort of market research be conducted be a neutral third party that has no economic interests in the outcome?

Perhaps the mayor would be better served looking at building a central soccer facility for the large number of kids playing soccer in our community that could also host tournaments and bring some visitors to town. Instead the Mayor haplessly chases this $100 million dream based on a fallacy of composition that is downright dangerous to the taxpayers of Elk Grove.    

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Anonymous said...

a bunch of kids in soccer uniforms evidences overwhelming demand for pro soccer?

what a joke.

Anonymous said...

A joke, yes or I'll go even further and say INSANE!

Anonymous said...

Glass houses, EGN?
Your observation and analysis on this issue is correct.
Now, the questions are: Can you spot the fallacies in your previous work? Do you plan to reduce them in the future or do you only intend to point out the speck in another person's eye?

Anonymous said...

Correcting myself as Anon 06:47...
I should say, "observation and analysis ARE correct."
You agree to work on your fallacy problems and I'll agree to work on my subject/verb agreement problems... ;)

Anonymous said...

Overwhelming demand for professional major league soccer?

I believe it and I believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus too!

Bainc said...

I was at the Council meeting where the soccer players came in their uniforms. They all wanted a place to host tournaments instead of traveling all over Northern CA. A noble cause but realistic? The Council's idea was to build a stadium to fund building practice fields surrounding the stadium. There were sighting Frisco Tx (Dallas) as an example.

They did the same thing with the Paraná’s bringing them in to support an Aquatic Park. What the Paraná’s wanted was a place to hold local swim meets but again the Council’s idea is to have a Water Park fund the Aquatic Park.

I have 5 kids, the all play or will play soccer when they’re older. I manage and play on an adult co-ed rec team through CSD at Bartholomew Sports Park. My kids, my wife, and I all enjoy playing soccer…But we don’t watch soccer. I’m sure if MLS came to Elk Grove we’d check it out once but there’s zero chance we’ll regularly attend their games. I’m just one example but I’m sure there are more like me than not.

Anonymous said...

You correctly point out another fallacy... Appeal to emotion. Doesn't it just make you want to squirt out a couple tears when you see those healthy, young kids paraded into city council to show their support for the aquatic park or soccer stadium? It sure makes for great photo ops, doesn't it? Oh, yes, we need a grand soccer stadium... FOR THE CHILDREN! Oh, and if you don't agree to it, you are against healthy children.
Yup - "appeal to emotion" is the politician's "go to" tool.

Anonymous said...

I was also at the Council meetings when this happened, kids wanting some great soccer fields and the swim teams wanting additional pools for swim meets. The next thing we know the city council has taken it Professional and spent many tax dollars pursuing it, even adding a water amusement park in the middle of residential with zip lines close to housing. Even went to TX to review their complexes.

Much like the 2011 City public workshops to introduce the SEPA project to the community and receive input on assets and opportunities and related land use, amenities, and circulation improvements. Nothing ever mentioned about a MLS Soccer Stadium in the meetings I attended, but the city council grabbed onto the name "soccer" and ran with it.

Anonymous said...

Soccer will work in Sacramento, but its not going to be headquartered in Elk Grove. That's the laughable part of this, that Davis may well understand that the MLS is interested but is gullible to think that they'd allow a stadium placed away from the money of Sacramento.

Connie said...

It is a shame the plans to build a soccer complex to host youth soccer tournaments have been totally disregarded.

Those of us who have traveled to other cities know they are very lucrative for them. Our family would spend at least $1,500 a weekend for meals, lodging, and shopping. Hundreds of Elk Grove families do the same traveling to Redding, Pleasanton, etc, for soccer tournaments.

Elk Grove's Soccer Complex could have been built years ago and our city could have been enjoying the benefits of the complex for years now.

But it was tossed aside for a soccer stadium, and that is the real loss not only to the youth of our city, but our local businesses as well.

Fact Checker said...

A thorough market study was done that validates the direction of the City in pursuing this project.

As far as the youth market? Page 62.

Anonymous said...

Fact Checker...
Unfortunately, some of the underlying assumptions (one existing major sports team and two existing concert venues) have changed or are about to change (FC Sacramento is the 2nd "major" sports team and the downtown Kings Arena "thing" will be the third concert venue).
Assuming the initial study was correct, the change in these assumptions requires additional evaluation.
It is possible that EG wasn't aware of the impending changes up North (or maybe they just got beat to the punch) but either way, I have my doubts.

Connie said...

Fact Checker,

I understand that, but other projects have taken a front seat to the soccer complex. The soccer complex idea has been around since 2005.

Recently one council member, noting all the balls we have up in the air, and I can't remember which one, asked the Council to have a future agenda item so that we can prioritize all of these very expense projects.

I hope the Council asks the public to weigh in on which balls stay up in the air and which balls fall flat on the ground!

Bainc said...

Connie ~ It was Hume who wanted to bring back all the projects.

Fact Checker ~ I remember seeing page 62 when this came through the council the first time and laughed. Northern CA likely includes areas from Fresno to Redding and San Francisco to Lake Tahoe. How many of those players would be considered in San Jose's market already? Half? 2/3rd? San Jose already has a team. Will people be flocking from Fresno and Redding to see MLS in Elk Grove or Sacramento? Do thousands of people from Elk Grove currently drive down to San Jose to watch games? I bet it’s a handful at the most.

MLS could have a future in Sacramento but it's not coming to Elk Grove. I also don't believe there's much of a correlation between playing soccer and paying to watch soccer. American’s have been playing soccer in mass for 30+ years and the TV viewership and half empty stadiums around MLS prove it’s not that popular.

Build a tournament facility and save our soccer moms some gas.

Anonymous said...

Yes the numbers are fuzzy. In addition... Note that a number of the assumptions are now incorrect. Specifically, the number of major teams in the area and the number of concert venues.
When these (including the aquatics center) come back to council, I do hope they put a stake in the heart of these vampires - They're sucking the blood from EG's body.

Coffee Bean said...

I recall that the feasibility study also admitted that MLS by itself will run a deficit, and the stadium must rely on other events such as concerts to avoid a loss on the stadium. Seems to me Davis should be spending as much time on those events as he is soccer. Kids in the audience wanted soccer, he reads that to mean pro soccer. Kids in the audience wanted swimming, he reads that to mean olympic trials with high dive. Bet his own kids make out good during Christmas time!

Anonymous said...

Pro soccer? Olympic Trials?

When is the Easter Bunny going to make his or her appearance?

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