Most siblings have had the experience of playing against their siblings growing up. Some competitions may have been friendlier than others. Regardless of the intensity, these competitions often led to the younger sibling’s frustration. Perpetually fighting against a superior, younger kids may have been disheartened by the constant disadvantage. However, does this competitive upbringing have a permanent influence on the younger kids? Does a drive for competition become an instinct? An instinct that could have a positive impact on their careers once older? Studies show that this idea of competitive later-borns may just be true.
Evidence derived from various studies shows that an athletic advantage, due to a higher strive for competition, is often present in those who are younger siblings. According to Tim Wigmore, a respected sports journalist who has experience writing for companies such as ESPN, “Even when two siblings both reach professional status, the younger one tends to be more successful.” To support this idea, a study conducted in 2010 by Frank Sulloway and Richard Zweigenhaf shows that even younger siblings that come from a family with many professional-level athletes are more likely to have a more thriving career. When surveying 700 pairs of brothers in which both were athletes competing in the MLB, the later borns were 2.5 times more likely to achieve better batting statistics on their record. The study also revealed that the younger siblings often had longer-lasting careers.
The statistics above support the notion that younger siblings may have an advantage athletically, but the reasoning behind these results suggests that this advantage could have been a result of competing against older borns as kids. According to Tim Wigmore, “The roots of the little sibling effect may lie in the way younger siblings strive to match their older siblings on the field.” To relate this to members of our community here at Rowland Hall, freshman Sophia Hijjawi, a top competitive athlete skiing for our school’s Romark program, reflects on her competitiveness and the effect it may have on her athletic performance. Sophia comments, “I’ve always been competitive with anyone I met, so yes I was competitive with my siblings growing up. I don’t know if this competition led me to pursue sports, but having three siblings definitely made me want to win in whatever I participated in.”
While this notion may not be true in all cases, serious evidence suggests that younger siblings, generally, are indeed more competitive and have athletic advantages in professional careers later on in life. So, for all those younger siblings who may be discouraged by their constant loss to their older siblings, keep at it. This could be your career in the making.