‘Premier’ inflation in youth soccer

I just came across this article about Defective Labels in soccer in the U.S. on twitter as I had been working on a similar post, which is below.


My city has a large soccer league with about 1,300 teams. Most age brackets have 6-10 divisions of ‘Premier’ soccer and 2-3 divisions of “Rec”. Each division has 8-10 teams.

This Thomas Sowell (an economist) quote came up on Thomas Sowell’s unofficial Twitter recently:

When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.

Why does this soccer league have so many ‘Premier’ divisions?

One reason may be that it’s too much effort to change the division names in the computer systems to keep up with fast growth the league has experienced the last 20 years.

Though, I don’t buy that. Surely that doesn’t take nearly as much effort as building several multi-million dollar soccer complexes.

Another reason may be supplied by Sowell’s quote from above.

Parents want to think their kids play ‘premier’ soccer, so the league tells them what they want to hear. Maybe that’s one reason the league has grown so much.

A typical age bracket in the league has 10 divisions (80-100 teams, 1,300-1,500 players). As with most things in life, there is a distribution of skill across these divisions and players and they are not all ‘Premier’.

If division names were maintained to appropriately reflect the level of play (similar to belt colors in the martial arts), the top two divisions would be ‘Premier’ (A & B).

The next two would be ‘Intermediate’.

The remaining divisions should be called Development.

This might help parents and players better understand where they truly stand.

I see too many beginning players who are complacent to improve because they assume that ‘making the team’ in a ‘premier’ soccer division is proof enough that they are good soccer players.

Calling all soccer divisions Premier makes as much sense as calling 2nd grade math “algebra.”


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