I'm beginning to think that this month is my time for trashing sports commentators. Perhaps deservedly so. And now that we're entering the football season (collegiate and professional) with wall-to-wall television coverage, it's peak time for misuse of these words:
"Better" is the correct comparative word to describe the difference between TWO individuals or events…Tom is the better player (compared with David, for example).
"Best" is the correct comparative word to describe an individual or event among SEVERAL or MANY…Tom is the best player (on the team or in the entire league).
It is incorrect to say that Tom is one of the "better" players…; he is one of the "best" players….
This principle also applies to comparative words like "bigger" vs. "biggest", "smaller" vs. "smallest", "older" vs. "oldest", "dumber" vs. "dumbest".
The mistake is extremely common among broadcast sports commentators. In fact, they never get it right! They are among the DUMBEST. Are we surprised?
Getting this right shouldn't be restricted to only the best and the brightest.