Siblings challenge each other in professional sports - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Clash of the Harbaughs not the only sibling rivalry in sports

Many siblings compete in and against one another in sports. In every sport, they face a rivalry created from their childhood and birthed in their adulthood, creating must see television. (Source: Flickr/thegreatdane2008) Many siblings compete in and against one another in sports. In every sport, they face a rivalry created from their childhood and birthed in their adulthood, creating must see television. (Source: Flickr/thegreatdane2008)

(RNN) - Auburn vs. Alabama. Redskins vs. Cowboys. Yankees vs. Red Sox.

In sports, nothing beats a good, old-fashioned rivalry. Super Bowl XLVII brings the tantalizing storyline of brothers coaching against each other. San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh and John Harbaugh, who is head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, are the first brothers ever to coach opposing teams in the NFL's top event.

Jim and John come from a close family, and their parents split time to see them compete.

On Super Bowl Sunday, the Harbaughs' parents will see one son succeed and the other fail, but they are nevertheless proud to see them at the height of their profession.

It's not just having mom and dad looking on that make most sibling rivalries in sports more civil than most. A sports psychologist said that's usually the case.

"Siblings want to win, but not at the expense of the other, so they treat the competition differently," said Barbara B. Meyer, who is head of the sports psychology lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in a 2011 interview with ESPN the Magazine.

In every sport, siblings face a rivalry birthed in childhood, molded in adolescence and solidified in adulthood.

Here's a look at the top family feuds in sports:


Jim and John Harbaugh - The brothers learned their fiery style from their father, Jack, who was also a coach and who taught them to motivate their teams and frustrate opposing head coaches with great play calling. The fiery Jim managed to fascinate sports media with a post-game handshake in 2011, and both brothers have a reputation for intensity and a history of success, beginning when they played football in their youth.

Jim played for legendary University of Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler and had a pro career that spanned 15 years as a quarterback for five NFL teams. As a coach, Jim turned around the Stanford University football program before becoming the 49ers coach in 2011.

Older brother John played as a defensive back at Miami University of Ohio before beginning his coaching career at Western Kentucky under his father, Jack. He began coaching in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1998, and was hired as the Baltimore Ravens' head coach in 2008.

Honorable Mention: Bob, Mark and Mike Stoops - Bob Stoops is the head football coach of Oklahoma, where brother Mike is the defensive coordinator. Mark is the newest head football coach at Kentucky.


Peyton and Eli Manning - The two are at the top of their profession, both are highly marketable and seriously funny. The brothers have three Super Bowl rings between them, both have hosted Saturday Night Live and both have more wins at the collegiate and professional level than their famous father, former college and pro quarterback Archie Manning, who never played on a team with a winning record in his 13-year NFL career.

Peyton, of the Denver Broncos, and Eli, who quarterbacks the New York Giants, have played against each other twice (both wins went to Peyton in an Indianapolis Colts uniform in 2006 and 2010) and could very well face-off in a Super Bowl one day. The eldest Manning brother, Cooper, once had a promising football career. He played wide receiver with Peyton in high school, but his career was cut short when he diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition in college.

Honorable mentions: Ronde and Tiki Barber - Both played with a single franchise during their NFL careers. The identical twins played together at Virginia and squared off as pros with Tiki as a running back for the New York Giants and Ronde as a defensive back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ronde, however, wins this rivalry - he is the only one with a Super Bowl ring.


Serena and Venus Williams - No other siblings have met in as many consecutive grand slam finals as have the Williams sisters, and the two have dominated their sport for nearly 20 years. Both sisters have ruled in singles and doubles competition, both have been ranked No. 1 in their sport and both have held all four Grand Slam trophies at one point. Serena leads the series between the two at 13-10, with Serena winning at Wimbledon in 2009 at their last meeting. Serena has won 46 singles competitions while Venus has won 44.

The sisters have a great relationship and it shows in their doubles matchups - they  have 21 titles together, 13 doubles Grand Slams and the last three Olympic Gold medals together. They are the female, tennis equivalent of the Manning brothers and have even been in a commercial together.

Honorable mention: John and Patrick McEnroe - While the elder brother, John, is the better and more decorated player, Patrick wasn't a slouch as a professional. Their only meeting was in 1991 where John handily showed his little brother who was best. John was ranked No. 1 several times through the 1980s, won many finals and had better rivalries with Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and umpires than with his brother. Both McEnroes are currently television analysts for the sport.


Dom, Joe, and Vince DiMaggio - The most famous of this trio is Joe, but all three brothers played at the same time. Joe, one of baseball's greatest players, was a New York Yankee, and played many heated rivalry games against his brother Dom, a member of the Boston Red Sox. All three were center fielders; Joe DiMaggio has most of the records and World Series rings between them. Neither Dom nor Vince came close to a 56-game hitting streak like their brother, the Yankee Clipper.

Honorable mention: B. J. and Justin Upton - These brothers, three years apart, are now teammates for the Atlanta Braves. B.J. played for Tampa Bay of the American League and  Justin played for the Arizona Diamondbacks of the National League, so their only meeting came at the MLB All Star Game a few years ago. The Braves, having gotten the younger Upton in a seven-player trade on Thursday, signed B. J. to their largest free agent deal, a five-year $75.25 million deal two months ago.


Eric, Mark, Jordan, and Jared Staal - Three of the four Staal brothers are a part of hockey's elite. Eric, Marc and Jordan were picked in the first rounds in their respective NHL drafts (second in 2003, 12th in 2005, second in 2006) while Jared was picked in the second round and plays in the American Hockey League. Brothers Eric and Jordan both play for the Carolina Hurricanes, as Jordan signed a six-year, $60 million contract in 2012. Marc is a key player for the New York Rangers. The three brothers in the NHL have made All Star game appearances, while both Eric and Jordan have won Stanley Cup titles.

They have tangled with each other when they met on the ice, but are very close.


Cheryl and Reggie Miller: If you've ever seen the ESPN 30 for 30 film about Reggie Miller, you know this sibling rivalry is heated. Reggie may be the better professional player, but Cheryl was the better college athlete and the more skilled of the two, which might explain Reggie's cattiness later in life. Cheryl set the mold for women in basketball for a generation. Reggie is one of the greats to not have won an NBA championship and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.

Honorable mention: Marc and Pau Gasol - The Gasol brothers are stars internationally but are regarded as "soft" players in the NBA. Pau has won two NBA championships as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers since his trade from the Memphis Grizzlies, with the Lakers trading to Memphis the rights to Marc. It marks the first time in NBA history that brothers have been traded for one another. The brothers have been teammates for Spain's Olympic team.

The pair starred in a beer commercial in their native Spain.


Kyle and Kurt Busch - Both have fought with some of the top competitors in NASCAR and wrecked each other. The brothers are two of the most talented drivers on the circuit, but Kurt's feelings about the media don't get him the respect he might desire. Kurt and Kyle have won 24 races each over their 12 and eight year careers respectively.

Honorable Mention: Darrell and Michael Waltrip - The siblings with the largest gap in age at 16 years apart, also have drastic career statistics as well. Older brother Darrell has 84 career NASCAR Sprint Cup (Winston Cup back in Darrell's day) wins, to Michael's four NASCAR cup wins. Michael has won more Daytona 500s than his brother, but his first win and first Daytona 500 victory is overshadowed by the last-lap wreck that killed legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 2001.

Michael has raced part-time over the past few years and like his brother is a NASCAR commentator for various networks. Michael is also the owner of his own racing team.


Leon and Michael Spinks - The brothers are the first to hold the heavyweight championship belt (Leon in 1978, Michael in 1983). Both brothers won Olympic gold medals in the 1976 Montreal games. Leon beat Muhammad Ali in February 1978 in one of the underdog wins of the century. Michael has been inducted to the boxing hall of fame while Leon has been withering away, most recently as a janitor of a YMCA in Nebraska.

Honorable mention: Wladimir and Vitali Kitschko - Both top heavyweights in boxing, a 2011 interview with ESPN the Magazine posed the scenario of a meeting with the two Ukrainian siblings. The article recalled a 2009 interview, where Wladimir said the brothers promised their mother that they would never fight - if they did, "we'd both be losers."

The brothers, both with PhDs in sports science and lovers of chess, are more likely to play chess than knock each other out. Both are heavyweights who have held the many different top spots in the unorganized sport of boxing.

BONUS: Jackie and Mack Robinson - Jackie Robinson is an icon in American sports culture. The man who broke the color barrier of Major League Baseball in 1947 eventually became the first Rookie of the Year in 1947, the first African-American National League MVP in 1949 and was a six-time All Star during his 10-year career for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jackie is the first American professional athlete to have his number, 42, to be universally retired in his sport, and every player in the sport wears his number on Jackie Robinson Day. He later was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 and was the first African American baseball analyst on television.

Mack Robinson, Jackie's older brother, was a track and field star. Competing in the 1936 Olympic Summer Games in Berlin, Robinson finished seconds behind Jesse Owens in the 200 meters race, taking the silver medal.

Siblings create an instant dynamic perfect for sports. Playing sports with siblings can create bonds strengthening the sibling relationship.

"You can be a good brother or sister and still play to win," Meyer said. "It's about figuring out what you can each do to have a best performance."

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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