The Collegian
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Is it all in the genes?

Like father, like son. Like mother, like daughter. These adages typify inherent qualities others see in father/son and mother/daughter pairs. Acting like your mother or father not only applies to personality qualities and quirks, but in many sporting families, parents and children have similar playing styles and a tenacious attitude for excellence.

Most children try to emulate their parents in all aspects of their lives. Parents serve as the first role model for their children. Remember playing catch with your dad or splashing around during swim lessons with your mom? Well, many all-star athletes got their start doing the same thing countless children around the country and world do with their parents.

Look at Tiger Woods. Mistresses and odd sexual requests aside, he was putting around and working on his killer drive when he was a little two-year-old tot. And whom does he credit the most with his success? His late father, Earl Woods, taught Tiger how to drive, chip and putt on U.S. military courses in southern California, coaching one of the most precocious young golfers in history.

The Williams sisters are one of the most famous tennis doubles teams ever, if not for their determined, fierce style of play, then most certainly for their fashion choices. Back when Grand Slam titles were simply dreams and aspirations to strive for, Richard Williams, their father, served as the sisters' coach. While the sisters have sometimes taken competitiveness too seriously, almost to a "family feud" if you will, they are extremely close and often support each other, even if one has just defeated the other.

There is at least one name synonymous with Southern football: Manning. Not just Peyton and Eli, quarterbacks in the NFL, but the patriarch of the football quarterback dynasty, Archie Manning, who started it all. Though Peyton attended the University of Tennessee instead of his father's alma mater, Ole Miss, Eli fulfilled the family legacy as the last son to attend Ole Miss. Archie, head of the Manning quarterback clan, played in the NFL, but some may remember him as the father of two great NFL quarterbacks rather than as a player himself.

One of the most daredevilish of sporting families could be the Earnhardts, Dale Jr. and the late Dale Sr. of NASCAR. The two drivers thrilled hundreds of thousands each time they drove together. Yet the last time the father-son pair raced together was Dale Sr.'s last race ever at the Daytona 500 in February 2001. Dale Jr. still races, and he won his first Daytona 500 in 2004, three years after his father's death and six years to the day after his father won his last Daytona 500 in 1998. Even in death, racing's dynamic father-son duo lives on.

Perhaps a lesser-known brother-sister combo deserves its moment in the spotlight. Cheryl and Reggie Miller are two of the most prolific basketball players in United States history. Both are Olympic gold medalists. Both hold college records in scoring. Both are more than six feet tall. Essentially, they are unstoppable in a game of co-ed 2-on-2. Good luck shutting the twosome down at a friendly game of H-O-R-S-E. In fact, Cheryl beat Michael Jordan in one-on-one, 11-7. Oh, and she scored 105 points in one game during high school. Reggie's catch-up to big sis isn't too bad either, having set an Indiana Pacers scoring record with 57 points in one game. Team Miller has more accolades combined than any one basketball player. It's in their blood.

And kicking up news most recently in the world of sporty families, there are the Bradleys. For most of the free world, before the 2010 World Cup, no one knew who Bob and Michael Bradley were (unless you happen to be a huge soccer aficianado, then props to you!). Bob coached the United States National team into the second round of the 2010 World Cup, and Michael played on Team USA. Both Bradleys were an integral part of the United States' somewhat successful run in the recent World Cup, which has helped increase mainstream appeal for the sport. Michael may trail Landon Donovan in the hotness category, but if Bob was a bit younger and had more hair? Two words: silver fox. The Bradleys helped propel more and more American fans into watching soccer, even if for many, it is only once every four years.

These families are just like yours and mine: they squabble over the last chocolate-chip cookie and gripe about whose turn it is to take out the trash. They take awkward family photos and goof off during family reunions. The only slight difference is that these athletes learned from their parents, or their parents played right alongside them. This family weekend, take a break from giving your parents their umpteenth campus tour and do what families do: play together.

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