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Siblings & sports not always the best mix

Siblings who participate in the same sport may have negative experiences within their sibling–athlete relationship.

April 28, 2017 — 

When it comes to siblings and sports, variety might be a key to success and happiness.

Yes, we know of a handful of successful sporting siblings. There are the NHL Vancouver Canucks’ Sedin twins, Peyton and Eli Manning of the NFL, and of course our very own duo of Courtlyn and Sheridan Oswald from the University of Manitoba Bison’s women’s hockey squad.

But that type of success isn’t always the case, and according to a new study, there might be a reason why.

Siblings who participate in the same sport may have both positive (e.g. closer relationship) and negative (e.g. jealousy) experiences within their sibling–athlete relationship, according to a recently published study co-authored by FKRM associate professor, Dr Leisha Strachan, and University of Western Ontario Ph.D candidate Kendra Nelson Ferguson.

Although a close sibling bond can be constructed, choosing different paths and identities may help to reduce competition, jealousy, and rivalry, helping to manage sibling relations.

The study highlights tips for parents to avoid negative experiences for their children involved in sport.

For example, parents should encourage their children to participate in a variety of sports and/or activities as well as be given the opportunity to choose which sport and/or activity they are involved in.

“If there is a child involved in sport at the elite level, siblings may benefit from becoming involved in another sport and/or activity,” says Ferguson, who is also a FKRM graduate studies alumna.

“This could provide them with the opportunity to develop skills and talent, athletic or otherwise, away from the shadow of the elite sibling athlete, providing them with their own individual niche.”

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