Top athletes are more than just athletes; they possess a certain level of celebrity. The general public is interested in their life outside of the shows, and their families tend to be a favorite subject. As keen observers of a variety of sports, we are beginning to notice the emergence of sporting heritage or even dynasties. It presents an intriguing discussion of how elite athletes got to where they are and what gave them near superhuman abilities in the first place.
For an armchair fan, the Korda family might not mean anything to you, but for tennis enthusiasts, it will be more than familiar. Sebastian Korda is a 20-year-old player currently ranked number 42 in the world and growing rapidly. His impressive form attracts a lot of attention, as he is often touted as the future of American tennis. Meanwhile, his father, Petr Korda, was a Czech tennis player who peaked at world No. 2 and was Australian Open champion in 1998. Sebastian’s mother, Regina Rajchrtova, was also a player Czech who has already reached the 26th place in the world.
Korda’s dominance doesn’t end there, however, as Sebastian’s two older sisters are two of the most accomplished active golfers in the world. Nelly and Jessica are – at the moment – ranked first and seventh respectively in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). They recently represented Team USA in last month’s Solheim Cup, narrowly losing to Team Europe.
“[I]Along with offering personal exposure and guidance, these families can afford the best lessons and send their offspring to the best training academies.
But the impressive talent of the Korda family is not a rarity in elite sports; in fact, these biological links appear quite regularly. Footballers Erling Haaland and Kasper Schmeichel both have fathers who played for their respective international teams, while the Maldini dynasty is still going strong in its third generation with Daniel Maldini at AC Milan.
Beyond football, the three Molina brothers of Major League Baseball (MLB) were all excellent catchers who peaked at the same time, each winning a World Series at least once. Moving on to tennis, the most famous and decorated of the lot are undoubtedly the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, with 7 and 23 Grand Slam titles respectively. The duo were the face of women’s and American tennis for the better part of a decade.
Knowing that “sportsmanship” is apparently not a random trait raises the rather mundane question of whether elite athletes are born with such talents or whether they acquire them, broadly defined. It’s the root of the age-old debate between nature and nurture, and an easy conclusion to draw is that it’s a bit of both. Besides the parents providing the “athletic” genes, sport is likely to be a common topic of discussion for an athletic family. Subsequently, these children will have increased exposure and awareness of sport and fitness, drawing inspiration from parents to build the necessary foundation and, effectively, get ahead of their peers.
“Sometimes all the stars line up and, with the right resources, the right talent and, most importantly, the right family, the path to sporting superstardom is clear”
Parents who already have sporting experience can also smoothen their child’s journey to the highest level. Elite athletic families, such as the Kordas and the Maldinis, are all financially well off, which means that in addition to providing personal exposure and guidance, these families can afford the best lessons and send their offspring in the best training academies. This type of privilege is even more pronounced in the case of less accessible sports such as Formula 1 and golf.
In the realm of F1, the financial help of a family can continue far beyond providing the basics of an aspiring driver, with nepotism pervading senior competition. The Haas Formula 1 team has given its 2021 seat to Nikita Mazepin, whose multi-billionaire father Dmitry is one of their biggest investors. Whether Nikita deserved the seat is another matter, but the question remains: would he be in such a position without his father’s money? It’s unlikely.
Pure talent can only take you so far in the cutthroat world of elite sports; Ravel Morrison is a good example. A Manchester United youngster once compared to Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs by Sir Alex Ferguson, and described as ‘better than Paul Pogba’ by Wayne Rooney, Morrison endured a stop-start career and, ironically, now plays under Rooney for the Cash-strapped Derby County. , after mediocre episodes in Sweden and Turkey. His struggles had nothing to do with his physical fitness for football, but rather with issues of personal attitude and with the law. Conversely, it is a situation rarely encountered in the children of athletes, because fostering the right sports mentality is simply part of their education.
In short, putting nature and nurture aside, it’s fair to say that, as with all aspects of life, luck also plays a vital role. Sometimes all the stars line up and, with the right resources, the right talent and, most importantly, the right family, the path to sporting superstardom is clear, leaving only a poorly timed tackle in training or a too long swing on the green. derail the predestined destiny. Laura Robson, a teenage prodigy once described as Britain’s next big tennis star, is a perfect illustration of the unfavorable abilities of luck, having suffered numerous injuries despite being brought up in a wealthy family with a professional sportswoman for her mother.
As the camera lens widens to inevitably keep tabs on the private lives of athletes away from the field, court and track, it’s not too dystopian to imagine a future where, just as reality TV fans tune in religiously to watch the latest antics from the Kardashian clan, sports fans pack the terraces to watch the latest in the long line of Messi or Ronaldo.
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