By our mystery correspondent Per Dantic.
‘He is a top top player’
We often hear the commentators say ‘He is a top top player’. What they’re telling us is, if you could get all the players to line up in a row, and then divided that line into three sections, you’d have some players who are waiting around at the top end, some players in the middle, and some at the bottom.
We could ask what scale the commentators are using to measure players to get them into this queue of quality. But that question’s not for today.
We could ask where the commentators draw the borders between top and middle, and where does the middle stop so that the bottom can begin? That question’s not for today either.
Even if we leave the goalkeepers to one side, as they are clearly a different species, we could still ask what is it that the commentators think strikers and defenders all have in common that allows them to all be classified as top, middle and bottom?
You guessed it, that question’s not for today either.
We could ask if the players have to measure up to this unspoken yardstick once, or achieve it consistently over an unspecified period of time? Again, not for today.
We could ask if a top player takes on the appearance of a top player because he’s surrounded with other top players giving him a top-up? Maybe some other day…
No, the question for today is: ‘What is the second ‘top’ doing in the commentators’ top-top rating?’
(It could mean, of course, that they think that just repeating the word ‘top’ makes someone ‘topper’ than just the single adjectival ‘top’ – eg ‘top top’ is better than just ‘top’. And ‘bad bad’ is presumably worse than just ‘bad’ ? Superbad! Supertop! Ed).
Is it that they think there are so many top players, that simply saying ‘He is a top player’ lacks the exclusivity required for a top ranking accolade? Have they sliced the top group up into three sections allowing them to talk about the players who are at the top of the top group. Using nine options instead of three brings greater precision. In fact saying ‘top-top’ is three times more precise than just saying ‘top’. It’s a smaller group. It’s more exclusive now.
Some of you may be ahead of me at this point and worked out for yourself that to have a top-top player you also need eight other players to fill the full list of other sub-categories. You’re saying that, while the commentators may only ever mention the top-top players, without a middle and a bottom there is no top. A footballer can only become a top-top player by putting him next to a minimum of another eight players. These other guys cannot simply be ignored. You might even say that, in a real-real way, the other eight sub-categories of player actually make the top-top player into the top player.
You were so close. What you overlooked was that the commentators have chosen to use the word ‘a’, and that changes everything. When they say ‘He is a top-top player’ they’re talking about him as one of a group. That means you’ll now need to at least double up in all the nine sub-categories, giving you a minimum of 18 players divided into nine groups of two.
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