SIMILAR POSITIONS on football teams have often been filled by brothers, we are told by R. E. Klingensmith, writing in The Journal of Heredity (Washington). He submits a list of 29 sets of brothers who are playing or previously have played college football under coaches who presumably knew the positions to which they were best fitted. This list shows that 24 pairs were fitted to play similar positions, and 5 pairs to play positions which are entirely different as to physical requirements and training. He continues:
In this connection, ends who had brothers playing in the back field were considered in the same class, because the requirements of the two positions are much the same. Ends and backs must be faster and possibly think more quickly than the heavy lineman.
Of the 24, two sets are listed as playing different positions, but they were made over from similar positions to fill the needs of their respective teams.
Some notable athletes who seem to run to type are the Poe boys of Princeton, of whom there were five, all backs or ends and all exceptional drop-kickers. Much of this ability probably came through training, for it is known that these boys spent hours at a time throughout their summer vacations, practising kicking.
The Nesser boys, who came from near Wheeling, play all positions. There are reported to be from five to nine of these brothers, and all of them weigh over 200 pounds each.
Outside of football, the field of sport shows few instances where brothers have inherited similar abilities. Two notable exceptions are the Shields boys of State and Penn, each of whom could run a mile under 4.25. Five Delehanty brothers have all played more than a year in big league baseball.
The reason for this is probably that sports other than football depend much more on specialized abilities. Football is based largely on physical strength.
The data here come only from the memories of a few men. If the records of brothers playing football were complete there would still be only a small percentage of the number of boys playing football who have brothers not playing at all.
If we could sift the qualities which make up a football player down to the most vital, they would probably be temperament and physique.
Both of these qualities depend upon a number of things, so that neither is often inherited intact. This is the probable reason that so many football players have brothers who do not play at all.
However, our records show that when brothers do play football, the proportion of those playing similar positions is too great to be mere coincidence.
Source: The Literary Digest for February 18, 1922