Why are great athletes more likely to be younger siblings?

The roots of the little sibling effect may lie in the way younger siblings strive to match their older siblings on the field. This was the case with Michael Jordan, the youngest of the three Jordan boys and the fourth of the five Jordan children. When the siblings were growing up, Larry — who was born 11 months before Michael — was considered a better basketball player and regularly bested Michael in one-on-one games.

“I don’t think, from a competitive standpoint, I would be here without the confrontations with my brother,” Michael recalled in the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance.” “When you come to blows with someone you absolutely love, that’s igniting every fire within you. And I always felt like I was fighting Larry for my father’s attention. …

“I want that approval. I want that type of confidence. So my determination got even greater to be as good, if not better than, my brother.”