There are players who, like me, played every game of the season. That's a lot of footy. And While it is a demanding game, having that nucleus of players available for so many games is one of the reasons we were able to finish second and earn two home finals.

This is an extract from the sport section of my local paper. I don't quite understand the unusual usage of the word nucleus. Is it comparing the players to a nucleus? If so, I can't see how players would be somehow a nucleus.

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    I'm not sure I agree with the closing of this question, but you could have avoided that by simply pasting a definition of nucleus from your favorite dictionary, so that we could all understand why you find this usage "unusual." Your question can still be reopened if you do that with an edit. – J.R. Sep 23 '15 at 21:12

A nucleus often lies at the centre of something and represents an indispensable part of some object.

Take the nucleus of an atom. An atom might transfer an electron to another atom, but not the nucleus. The nucleus remains in its place.

These players "played every game of the season". Other players played in some games but missed other games. Thus, these players constitute an imaginary "nucleus" that stays in its place even as other elements rotate.

One other word that could be used here is "core":

You look at Windsor, they didn't win their first year but the core of players stayed together and they've won.

But perhaps as much as the new signings, Wits’ title credentials will depend on the core of players who have been at the club for some time, as well as a new crop of youngsters who are breaking into the first team.

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    Also, nuclei are responsible for nucleation. Without nuclei, water can't boil, rain can't form, and (metaphorically speaking, this word isn't used in this context) pearls can't form. In other words, a nucleus is the core which makes it possible for the larger group to form, and the desired effect to take place. – Dan Bron Sep 23 '15 at 12:50

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