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Biotech Science

DNA Test To Determine Kids' Sports Futures 240

Posted by timothy
from the ok-let's-watch-gattaca-again dept.
bs0d3 writes "Parents are being sold on the idea of buying DNA tests for their kids, to find out which sports they will be better at. The company called Atlas is based in Boulder, Colorado; and is selling DNA tests for $160. They are looking for what's called the ACTN-three gene, the gene behind what is called 'fast-twitch explosive muscles.' Children that don't have ACTN-three will be better suited for endurance sports like long distance running or swimming. Children that have a lot of it will be better suited for sports like football, rugby, wrestling, or hockey. Kids that have some ACTN-three will not be the fastest and not the slowest, they don't burn out the quickest and they don't last the longest. They are categorized as capable of playing just about any type of sport they like."
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DNA Test To Determine Kids' Sports Futures

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  • How about (Score:3, Funny)

    by bobstreo (1320787) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:08PM (#38120732)

    How will their performance be in Madden Games?

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:09PM (#38120742) Homepage

    Great idea. I'm glad this service exists. You know what it's going to be really good for?

    Lying. Saving your money but telling your kid you ran the test anyway, and what it said.

    • by Fluffeh (1273756)

      Lying. Saving your money but telling your kid you ran the test anyway, and what it said.

      Given that it is only $160, I think it will more likely be used to put a "scientific" backing to parents berating/nagging their kids for not working hard enough... "Jimmy, you have all this potential, the scientific test we ran on you proves it, you need to run faster to get gold medals! Stop slacking off and train harder already - make us proud!"

      • by cptdondo (59460) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:36PM (#38120884) Journal

        No shit. My kid (who's a better than average swimmer) won't go to the State competition anymore as he's seen too many parents yelling at their kids. "How come you didn't win? You really screwed up!" - to a 7 year old.

        I'm backing him 100% on that. Yup, he's qualified, he's fast, and he's good but it's just no fun to watch parents be assholes.

        So where's the "I really want to do it" gene? My daughter is not as good a swimmer but she's highly coveted by her team because she really wants to be there. She'll never get above middle of the pack, but every coach wants her on their team - because she works harder than anyone else and loves it, and encourages everyone around her.

        Where's the gene for that?

        This will be used by parents to beat up on their kids; parents who never were more than middle of the pack anything, now are 100 lbs overwieght, but know their kid is the next Michael Phelps. Blech.

        • by Isaac Remuant (1891806) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:23AM (#38121146)

          Thanks for the sanity.

          Extreme competition ruins a lot of sports and athletes. The experience and the joy of training/playing is lost and replaced by this constant stress to fare better than others. This doesn't happen to everyone, of course, but I know a lot of people who have been "shamed" (many times by themselves) into stopping all activity because they're not good enough. And lack of practice only makes it worse for a potential comeback.

          It even happens with simple things like jogging.

          That said. I don't think such a test is inherently bad. If you know that your son has good chances at being better at something, you might think it's a good idea to let him try out those sports to see if he enjoys them and can exploit that "advantage". Just as long as you don't become a maniac who will psychologically pressure the kid into madness nor bet highly on his earnings as sport-star (the potential gold mine kid doesn't usually end well).

          • by NFN_NLN (633283) on Monday November 21, 2011 @01:34AM (#38121376)

            Thanks for the sanity.

            Extreme competition ruins a lot of sports and athletes. The experience and the joy of training/playing is lost and replaced by this constant stress to fare better than others.

            It isn't just psychological, there can be long-term physical damage. Gymnasts often experience wrist and ankle issues from over training.

            “Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters"

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Girls_in_Pretty_Boxes [wikipedia.org]

          • by Tim C (15259) on Monday November 21, 2011 @05:28AM (#38122164)

            If you know that your son has good chances at being better at something, you might think it's a good idea to let him try out those sports to see if he enjoys them and can exploit that "advantage".

            Fair enough, though personally I let my daughter try whatever she wants (within reason for her age, etc, of course) regardless of whether or not I think she might be good at it.

        • I think that's the nurture part of the "nature vs. nurture" debate, which illustrates the main flaw with the DNA test indicating sports aptitude:

          No matter how good your genes are, you need to have the will and mental fortitude to work hard and shape your raw talent.

          The best genes in the world cannot cure apathy. On a personal note, kudos to both your children. As a former competitive swimmer, I have seen exactly what your son has spoken about and it saddens me. I have also tried to be a hard worke
          • by cptdondo (59460) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:51AM (#38121252) Journal

            As a former competitive swimmer, I have seen exactly what your son has spoken about and it saddens me. I have also tried to be a hard worker and encourage others (as your daughter does). Athletes tend to be competitive people and by design, we don't like seeing people working harder than us, so its easy for such a personality to drive the team as whole to higher levels of performance.

            I have to give a lot of credit to the head coach; he's been at it for 33 years and his goal is to create lifetime athletes. He doesn't care if you do well today; he wants your best every day, and he's willing to work at it. Our team has not won a relay ever (I think) since he puts one new/weak swimmer in every time. One time my son - then 9 - swam with the 15 year olds. They got their butt kicked but they all had a grand time; the high schoolers because they had no pressure to win, and my 9 year old because they all welcomed him and treated him as an equal.

            Part of it is also that we're all athletes to some extent; my wife is a distance runner and I'm an endurance cyclist so we know how hard it is to push every day. We know that our kids need encouragement and time off. Sometimes you have a great day, and sometimes you have a crappy day.

        • by Artifex (18308)

          No shit. My kid (who's a better than average swimmer) won't go to the State competition anymore as he's seen too many parents yelling at their kids. "How come you didn't win? You really screwed up!" - to a 7 year old.

          I'm backing him 100% on that. Yup, he's qualified, he's fast, and he's good but it's just no fun to watch parents be assholes.

          So where's the "I really want to do it" gene? My daughter is not as good a swimmer but she's highly coveted by her team because she really wants to be there. She'll never get above middle of the pack, but every coach wants her on their team - because she works harder than anyone else and loves it, and encourages everyone around her.

          Where's the gene for that?

          There is no gene for the human spirit. -- Gattaca.

          • by quadrox (1174915)

            It might be a (rhetorically speaking) good quote from a great movie - but that doesn't make it true.

            Please note that I'm not willing to state the exact opposite either. However, to my knowledge we have no reason to believe that "spirit" is not something determined by genetics, just as we don't have evidence that it is determined by genetics.

            • by quadrox (1174915)

              On further thought the quote is actually is a contradiction in terms. The human spirit is by very definition something about humans (as opposed to monkeys, aliens, plants...). What makes humans into humans? Their genes of course. You might argue that the human spirit is a cultural thing, but then I would say that culture also is shaped by genetics. I'm not saying that culture is 100% predetermined by genetics, but I'm saying that without human genes being what they are, human culture most likely would be di

        • > So where's the "I really want to do it" gene?

          Right on. That was the core message from "Gattica", that the will to do it can mean more than the theoretical ability to... as I saw all too many times in high school and university.

          Until we plug into that, the ACTN-3 is going to be just the beginning of a long, painful road.

        • Thank you. My son plays soccer in an under 8 age range, and his last game was against a team with a really serious coach. She was screaming so much at the kids on her team, that parents on ours started cheering for the kids to just have fun. She was really ridiculous, especially when our team managed to tie the game for a time. Tough game, other team won, but I think our team enjoyed themselves more and I'll take that, especially at so young an age.

          Give the kids tips on doing better, sure. But there's no n
          • by Teeroy32 (2512400)
            Yeah I had a coach like that, but It was when I was 26, I was playing second grade Aussie rules for my country town, now 2/3 of the team game from the team across the road who had just folded and had been "wooden spooners" for like a decade, we had the spirit that we were having a social kick with our mates, sure we tried our hardest but we weren't serious, just for fun. Well to cut a long story short the new team I was playing for had inherited the wooden spooner position, we lost our game by 2 goals(12 p
        • by kermidge (2221646)

          Selah. Had I mod points you'd get some. When I see anyone, but a parent especially, acting like an asshole I have to wonder both if their own upbringing was so twisted their psyches were ruined and if they're incapable of introspection.

        • Could you explain a bit more about your children and your sporting abilities?

          Since this post is about sports and genetics, I am wondering, what are your and your wife's sporting abilities? Are you two also swimmers?

          Also, what made both your kids swimmers? Did they naturally incline that way, or was it, as the article seems to indicate, something genetic? Or perhaps something in the environment (Access to swimming pool early in the age, all kids their age choose swimming etc...)

          What about their capabilities

        • > Where's the gene for that?

          Good question. I don't actually know, but I CAN tell you that there IS a test for the Arsehole-parent gene. It's not 100% accurate, but if a parent sends their kid's DNA sample to the lab mentioned in the article...chances are they've got it!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think I'd feel awful telling a kid, "No, you shouldn't play hockey because you have genetic indicators that say you probably don't have the very best type of muscle development for the game."

      All kinds of kids become really, really good at various sports because... surprise of surprises... the work really hard at it.
      • by muindaur (925372)

        Yeah, I was glad my parents let me play the sports I wanted to for the most part. Little league baseball was fun, but I wish I could have played ice hockey (there just wasn't a rink nearby and within their budget.) I never wanted to play football as a kid, and liked basketball as a winter sport. Though my parents were probably happy with those two because they are dirt cheap for working class parents. Just pay the fee for little league (covers the numbered shirt), and a glove lasts a few years. It was the

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        That's kind of my point. You don't really send in the test. You wait a couple weeks and then you say whatever your kid should hear. Save it for when the kid's feeling discouraged.

        We know genetic tests for sports achievement are bullshit anyway. If we relied strictly on genetic factors (and the received wisdom about them), there would be no white men playing basketball.

  • In Vitro (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheMiddleRoad (1153113) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:11PM (#38120748)

    That'll be when the fun begins. Until then, it's just a mindfuck.

  • by Elbereth (58257) <krachtm@yahoo.com> on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:18PM (#38120788) Homepage Journal

    I predict a strong showing of reactionary "what's wrong with people today?" comments. I have to wonder if getting an ultrasound was originally greeted with as much crankiness as I often see from articles like this.

    Myself, I'm a relentless progressive. So much so, I thought Gattaca looked kind of nifty.

    Of course, sometimes I say that just see the horrified expressions on people's faces.

    • "Of course, sometimes I say that just see the horrified expressions on people's faces."

      8-0

      • yeah, support genetic engineering, and people think you're friggin' Hitler. (but in all seriousness, I'm tempted to think that racists/anti-Semites/etc make the concept look worse than it actually is.)

        • by jpapon (1877296)
          There's nothing fundamentally amoral about eugenics. The problem was the assholes applying the theory.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:35PM (#38120878) Journal
      The real whining that this test deserves is that it is (like a fair few of the hokier genetic tests) overwhelmingly likely to be as or less predictive than a simple family history.

      Because modest amounts of sequencing have gotten so cheap, tests of this flavor don't tend to be outright lies(they do, indeed, usually test precisely what they claim to test); but the sales pitch inevitably glosses over the fact that only a few phenotypic characteristics are actually wholly determined by the single gene they can economically sample for.

      There are a few conditions that are sufficiently well understood, and causally simple, that you can actually get a "Yes/No" out of a genetic test; but they are rare, and this is unlikely to be one of them.

      I'd certainly be delighted to see genetic defects avoided, and useful genetic traits made more commonly available, but I'm not impressed by the chances of opportunistic lab-coated fortune tellers being the ones who get us there...
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by DigiShaman (671371)

      If you're in favor of a Gattaca future, you're a straight up fascist. Just thought I point that out FYI.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:06AM (#38121060) Journal
        That was the bit that really disappointed me about GATTACA: Instead of focusing on the genuinely interesting question of 'What happens when we can't even pretend that all men are created equal, and we can control a whole lot of you that used to be a roll of the dice?', it basically just did a slightly-futuristic totalitarian apartheid morality tale, where nobody actually gives a damn about the fact that genetic engineering actually makes you better, because they are too busy shoving around the non-genetically-engineered...

        Earth to repressive future: If genetic engineering actually makes people superior, you wouldn't need a massive surveillance state dedicated entirely to keeping the inferiors in line, you'd just need a lightweight meritocracy...
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DigiShaman (671371)

          ...or a culling of the herd. Once you've established upon a factual sense of superiority through genetic engineering, social dynamics radically shift. If you thought racism was bad pre and post civil war, you've haven't seen nothing yet. It may take several hundred years, but I can see future where the face of humanity forks in divergence in ways never thought possible. Think about it, engineered labor slaves, sex slaves, super nerds, super soldiers, super hybrids...ect. And no matter how much we play with

          • by russotto (537200)

            Think about it, engineered labor slaves, sex slaves, super nerds, super soldiers, super hybrids...ect.

            As dystopias go, it seems better than where we're headed now. Brave New World over 1984.

            • Did you actually read Brave New World? It was just as much reliant on fascist enforcement of thought crime laws as 1984. It was somewhat less sinister (Mustafa Mond seemed like a downright nice guy, all things considered), but the means involved were not terribly different.

          • by SpeZek (970136)
            Doesn't superiority imply superior morals as well? If one thing has remained constant throughout human technical evolution, it's that, however long it may take, we do get better as we evolve.
    • by chrb (1083577) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:42PM (#38120918)

      Gattaca was nifty. When given a choice between a long, healthy life, or a shorter one subject to disease and illness, people ought to be horrified that anyone would choose the latter for their children. Who wouldn't want a society where illness and disease had been pretty much eliminated, and where every child that was born could expect a long and healthy life? The only problem was the in-valids, those who hadn't been genetically engineered. But in the real world we could expect those people to be a very small proportion of the population - when genetic engineering gives certain children such a big advantage as portrayed in the film, the first political party to propose that it be provided as a government-funded service will be elected, and it will be declared a "right" available to all couples.

      • by polymeris (902231) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:09AM (#38121068)

        when education gives certain children such a big advantage as portrayed in the film, the first political party to propose that it be provided as a government-funded service will be elected, and it will be declared a "right"

        when health care gives certain children such a big advantage as portrayed in the film, the first political party to propose that it be provided as a government-funded service will be elected, and it will be declared a "right"

        Sadly, I don't think it works quite like that. Not everywhere, at least.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:20AM (#38121130) Journal
        I'm largely in agreement with your point, I just thought that Gattaca was a pretty terrible demonstration of its own premise...

        I've never understood the ethical calculus where people who, say, negligently expose children to conditions that create a risk of morbidity or mortality(unfenced swimming pools, prenatal drugs, neglect, etc, etc.) are looked down on as scum; but people who negligently expose children to (known) risks of heritable disease are generally not condemned, sometimes even looked on as courageous or such.

        Were genetic engineering (of sufficient maturity) available, it seems like the incentive to provide it broadly or universally would not only be populist appeal; but pragmatics: illness, weakness, stupidity, etc. are all expensive, and they usually bleed over on to those who live nearby(not to mention the emotional costs). Being able to reliably turn out people with the best body and mind genetic factors can offer would likely be an excellent investment.

        Gattaca, unfortunately, gave it all up to tell a little story about a society that dumped (as best the viewer could tell) an enormous level of resources into actively repressing the non-engineered, without any particular effort to judge them on their merits. It ended up basically being a story about Jim Crow laws or caste systems with a spacesuit on...
        • Yes, but that was the point behind the entire movie! If and when society does / has devised a metric for who is and is not a valid, wars inevitably erupt. And the valid, as judged by society, end up getting the boots put to them by those who were deemed invalid.

          Someone might call Godwin's law on this one, but let us consider the Third Reich. The German scientists went so far as to attempt to remove any "Jewish" influences in the branches of science, that while they achieved a lot early on, they ended up han

          • So what you're saying is that it's better to play genetic roulette than it is to intervene or direct? Do we dare to disturb the universe in its natural state? That argument could be used against any endeavour. If humanity's hubris is so risky and/or counterproductive, then shouldn't we abandon the discipline of engineering and medicine as well? (Cf. Caveman Science Fiction [dresdencodak.com])

    • by syousef (465911)

      I predict a strong showing of reactionary "what's wrong with people today?" comments. I have to wonder if getting an ultrasound was originally greeted with as much crankiness as I often see from articles like this.

      Myself, I'm a relentless progressive. So much so, I thought Gattaca looked kind of nifty.

      Of course, sometimes I say that just see the horrified expressions on people's faces.

      Yep. You have the asshole Gene. That'll be $324.99 thanks.

      Only trouble is you gave away that you're doing it for a reaction aka trolling. Do you tell people how nifty Hitler was and that you thought gas chambers were "nifty"? Godwin be damned.

  • Even easier (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The_mad_linguist (1019680) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:19PM (#38120792)

    There's an even easier test. Look at your kid's birthday. Now look at the cutoff date between age brackets for each sport. Now pick the one where your kid will always be the oldest player on the field. More physical development = wins more = gets more practice AND likes the sport more = positive skill-building feedback loop.

    • Re:Even easier (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zirbert (1936162) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:44PM (#38120938) Homepage

      Exactly. Much of Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers [gladwell.com], is devoted to explaining this principle. I put an article about it on my blog [blogspot.com] a while ago, but far more importantly, it's been on Cracked.com [cracked.com].

    • by Rhaban (987410)

      In short: If you want your kids to be good at sports, fuck in april.

  • This sounds really stupid and surely you end up best at the sport you enjoy and practice the most. I think this will just show which parent have the pushiness gene.
  • I bet there are loads of top athletes without this gene. I wonder if Usain Bolt has this gene.

    Screening for athleticism, and "intelligence" based on today's limited knowledge of genetics and biology of athleticism is dumb, and will probably remain dumb for at least 50 to 100 years.

  • I always thought the crucial gene for high school (and junior high) sports was how soon you grow tall, and how tall (and big) you actually get. Fast twitch or slow twitch is just a minor adjustment compared to those.
  • -k?

    There are countries where ultrasounds are popular for determing the gender of unborn children. that way you can abort the girls.

    • Well, given that selective female infanticide is driven by an underlying set of economic beliefs, with a surface coating of culturally localized misogyny, I suspect that the ability to prenatally identify computer geeks is rapidly drawing to the end of where it would be used to select against them. The cultural layer is taking longer to break down; but the economics of being a geek vs. being an athlete haven't exactly been tilting in the athlete's favor lately...

      Incidentally, I always have to wonder how
    • Sad but true. A bunch of savages people are.

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      don't worry, if used for gender bigotry, the institutionalized misandry of today will ensure that the technique will be used to abort boys first...and it won't get mentioned by the media and no one will care.

      • The universal reason for an abortion is an "unwanted child", why does the reason it is unwanted matter? Why do we question the motivations behind abortion, but not other forms of contraception?

        There are a bazillion reasons why the parent doesn't want the kid, and most of them have nothing to do with health, they include such reasons as; "I don't want stretch marks", "I can't afford it", "I would need a bigger car", and "I can't afford a girl". Once you start requiring people to state a "legitimate" reas
  • Gattaca (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bazald (886779) <bazald@@@zenipex...com> on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:35PM (#38120880) Homepage

    Well, if that isn't the start of Gattaca-esque trait selection, I don't know what is. Just don't let anyone select candidates for sports on the basis of the gene, okay? Give people with or without the gene a chance of doing what they like best, regardless of the statistics.

    • Re:Gattaca (Score:5, Funny)

      by bmo (77928) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:57PM (#38121016)

      Came looking for the Gattaca reference. Leaving satisfied.

      --
      BMO

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      And what a PC reason for selection of the (presence/lack) of the twitch gene. I wonder if a government might determine which soldiers are needed with which type of genes (twitch for infantry, no-twitch for snipers and UAV pilots), then tell the populace about a new program to win the Olympics in twenty years via genetic testing.
  • Step 1: Find a method to determine skill (in whatever desired area) from DNA.

    Step 2: Find a method to artificially combine two DNA strands that doesn't take more than a day or so.

    Step 3: Be able to grow a fully-functional human from the DNA generated in Step 2.

    Step 4: Start with the DNA of a few hundred people (preferably top athletes), and apply a evolutionary algorithm to combine, test, combine test, etc.

    Result: Within weeks, not centuries, you'll have the DNA for super-athletes, super-nerds or super-so

    • And super slaves. The kind that are genetically engineered to depend on an artificial enzyme to survive. Should a slave flee, this neo-sapean would shortly die without daily or weekly injections. ST DS9 featured a race in which the founders did exactly that.

  • *sigh* (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zaldarr (2469168) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:36PM (#38120888) Homepage
    Ugh. Anyone who knows anything about genetics has the understanding that we do not know nearly enough what genes or combinations of make anything a dead cert. Yes, they can be indicators, but it all should be taken with all the grains of salt in the Dead Sea. But I will applaud the fact that someone, yet again, is making money off idiots. Good luck to them.
  • Better Way (Score:5, Informative)

    by izomiac (815208) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:45PM (#38120944) Homepage
    A more accurate method of determining one's optimal sport is to do a muscle biopsy. It takes an insignificant amount of muscle and compares the ratio of fast, intermediate, and slow twitch muscle fibers. I highly doubt that a single gene can be used to reliably predict that ratio.

    OTOH, most people figure this out in childhood. Either you excel at sprinting, distance, or are mediocre at both. Plus, factors like body habitus play a greater effect than raw muscle composition, and practical experience is the only thing that factors everything in. But that's kinda irrelevant. Let the kid do what they like rather than push them into something they're most likely to win at. They'll probably wind-up picking their optimal sport anyway, and if their parents think the lost year or two of grade school training is a problem then there are some serious issues at hand.
    • Re:Better Way (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bmo (77928) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:15AM (#38121098)

      But here's a question.

      Does certain types of sport encourage the growth of one type of muscle cell over another?

      Roger Williams noted that nearly all the native americans excelled at running if they weren't lame from injury. They did because they started running as little kids all the way through adulthood (Route 44 in RI is known as Wampanoag Trail, which was a running trail back in the day). The same can be said for what seems to be the national sport of Kenya - the reason why there are so many Kenyan champion runners is that it's what everybody does growing up.

      Also, fast twitch vs slow twitch does not take into account the dynamics of a person's skeleton. All the fast twitch in the world is not going to help you in sprinting when your bones aren't optimal for it.

      There are so many factors in being good at a sport, a single genetic test is not going to tell you anything. This is barely a step above waving a dead chicken, which will do more harm than good if you ask me.

      >Let the kid do what they like

      I can't agree more.
      --
      BMO

  • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:47PM (#38120966)

    The parents could just look at themselves... A *ton* of pro athletes have pro athlete dads/moms. There is a reason why a lot of brothers and sisters make it together to the top tier. It's in their DNA, and the family knows it.

    And honestly, you want to look at the twitch muscle gene? How about height and build? You have to paint a picture that predicts accurately a child's build at 18. There is no one gene.

    • And honestly, you want to look at the twitch muscle gene? How about height and build? You have to paint a picture that predicts accurately a child's build at 18. There is no one gene.

      Height, build, reflexes, eyesight, cognitive abilities... There's a lot that goes into being good (or bad) at sports.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:57PM (#38121010)

    Some day DNA tests will be used used to black list people on to the preexisting list if we keep the old system in place. This is down side to tests like this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:59PM (#38121034)

    Why does every single kid have to play sports now? It seems like every precious little snowflake HAS to be some wannabe sports superstar nowadays.

    Sports is a giant clusterfuck of machismo brainless competition garbage. There are much better ways to keep your kid active without signing them up to some stupid team sport bullshit where you (and them) have to spend every free moment in practice or at a game or some other bullshit, time better spent on education and LEARNING.

    But no, we don't want that. We want dumb kids to grow up playing or watching the sport-of-the-week and not having any real education so they're not smart enough to see how we, as a society, are pretty much fucked.

    • Good point.
      Mod parent up.

  • ...better suited for endurance sports like long distance running or swimming. Children that have a lot of it will be better suited for sports like football...

    Football IS an endurance sport. The amount of running needed over the full 90 minutes of a game is easily up there with some of the longest track events. Or did they mean some other game? (clue: if it's played exclusively with the feet it's football).
    • Football IS an endurance sport. The amount of running needed over the full 90 minutes of a game is easily up there with some of the longest track events.

      The players away from the ball are mostly standing still or adjusting their positions at walking pace. You don't usually see that on TV, though - the camera tends to follow the ball.

      if it's played exclusively with the feet it's football

      Headers. Goalkeepers.

  • So, lots of ACTN-three makes children well-suited for football and the like, while no ACTN-three makes them well-suited for long distance running and so forth. And a medium level of ACTN-3 lets kids play any sport they like. But which gene makes children well-suited for slouching on the sofa while cramming Cheesy-Poofs into their pie-holes?
  • Sure, genetics have a lot to do with success at sport but will and determination are far more important.

    LK

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:29AM (#38121178) Homepage

    Producing a top sportsperson is not the goal of raising a child.

    They should be raised healthy, happy, and with good habits.

    They have to be encouraged to do whatever form of sport/exercise they are willing/happy to do.

    • by quantaman (517394)

      To play the devil's advocate producing a top sportsman isn't the only reason one might want this test.

      You want them "to be encouraged to do whatever form of sport/exercise they are willing/happy to do."

      Well two big factors in enjoying sport are a) having some talent for it, and b) being able to improve at it. If they have success they're more likely to stay active, and healthy. That doesn't mean forcing them into a sport, but I think guiding a child towards areas where they have potential is good parenting.

  • Well, not really a scam, but it's incredibly overpriced and gives you no useful information. That gene has very little effect outside of maybe the elite of the elite. Your body shape contributes much much more to your "ideal" sport. (More important is what the kid enjoys.)

    For $200, you can test 500,000 SNPs with 23andMe, get much more useful health info plus ancestry information.

    My result from 23andMe:
    rs1815739:CT "One working copy of alpha-actinin-3 in fast-twitch muscle fiber. Many world-class sprinters a

    • by smchris (464899)

      Totally agree on the price. 23andme.com periodically runs specials at $99, they've even done FREE+S&H, (with $9/month for a year commitment) and provides a ton of results on disease susceptibility, carrier status, traits, and continuing results as research comes in plus their ancestry and "cousins" angle, message boards, and informative blogs.

      I don't know. They say I'm "CC" with two working copies of ACTN3 and I've never played "football, rugby, wrestling, or hockey" but I did finish three marathons i

  • There is nothing better than a good scam I am in on. Desperate parents are a great source of revenue.

    "... did we tell you name of the game boy,
    we call it riding the gravy train."
    [pf wywh].

  • by tbird81 (946205) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:43AM (#38121226)

    Shameless (and copyvio) copy/paste from 23andMe [23andme.com]:

    This gene produces a protein called alpha-actinin-3 that is only turned on in fast-twitch muscle fibers (the kind used for power events like sprinting or weightlifting). The protein forms part of the contractile machinery in muscle cells, where it is thought to play both structural and signalling roles.

    The T version of the SNP in this gene prevents the full protein from being made. People with two copies of the T version thus have a total lack of alpha-actinin-3 in their fast-twitch muscle fibers. Those with the CT genotype have one functional copy of the gene and can still make the protein.

    Surprisingly, a complete lack of the alpha-actinin-3 protein doesn't seem to cause any type of disease. This is probably because another closely related protein can step in for alpha-actinin-3 in people without a functional copy. The substitute protein likely does not perform its job as well as alpha-actinin-3, resulting in worse performance in power exercises.

    Despite lack of a disease outcome, researchers wondered if the absence of alpha-actinin-3 might have an effect on athletic performance. Studies of elite athletes in Australia and Finland showed that power athletes—those whose performance depends on fast-twitch muscle fibers—were much more likely to have at least one working copy of the gene than non-athletes. In one study of Olympic power athletes (i.e., the best of the best), all had at least one working copy. Similar results were found in a study of Spanish professional soccer players.

    But does alpha-actinin-3 make a difference for non-athletes? In fact, it does.

    One study looked at a group of Greek teenagers who had been tested for a variety of fitness measures related to power and endurance sports. In this group, ACTN3 genotype had no effect on the girls, but boys with the TT genotype were significantly slower in a 40 m sprint. Interestingly, running was the only power event that the different versions of ACTN3 seemed to affect. For activities like throwing a basketball or jumping into the air, performance was unaffected by genotype.

    Another study looked at arm strength in a group of people before and after 12 weeks of strength training. ACTN3 genotype appeared to have no effect in men, but women with the TT genotype had lower strength at the beginning of the study. After the training program women with the TT genotype—those without a working copy of alpha-actinin-3—had made greater gains than the women with at least one functioning copy. This was true in both European and Asian women.

    Scientists aren't really sure why having alpha-actinin-3 would improve power performance. One theory is that the protein prevents damage in fast-twitch muscle fibers. The group who conducted the study of Greek teenagers thinks this explains why only running and not other power activities were affected by a lack of alpha-actinin-3. Running involves repeated use of the muscles, while jumping only uses muscles once: damage is not an issue.

    The scientists who saw that women with the TT genotype were able to build up more strength than other women also think alpha-actinin-3 protects muscle fibers from damage. Muscle damage is what stimulates muscles to adapt and become stronger. Those with the TT genotype lack the protection against damage that alpha-actinin-3 normally provides, thus allowing a greater gain in strength.

    Alpha-actinin-3 may also affect athletic performance by virtue of its effects on oxygen usage in muscle. Two studies (one in mice and one in humans) have shown that fast-twtich muscle fibers that lack functional copies of ACTN3 use more oxygen than those with at least one working copy. This type of metabolism might slow them down. Mice studies have also shown that these altered fibers are weaker and smaller than fibers containing alpha-actinin-3, but they are more efficient an resistant to fatigue—a situation that is better suited to endurance sports than sprinting.

  • Children that don't have ACTN-three will be better suited for endurance sports like long distance running or swimming. Children that have a lot of it will be better suited for sports like football, rugby, wrestling, or hockey. Kids that have some ACTN-three will not be the fastest and not the slowest, they don't burn out the quickest and they don't last the longest. They are categorized as capable of playing just about any type of sport they like.

    Better hope your kid is in the third group, otherwise it's a crap shoot as to whether they'll be forced into sports they don't like.

  • Um... is fast twitch muscle fiber more, uh, tender when cooked? I'm just asking... and how early will we know which children have more of it? Can these kids maybe have some kind of labeling system so that if some of them come near my cave or cross my bridge I'll be able to recognize them?
    I'm really wondering if children gifted with more this kind of muscle fiber would be better stewed or roasted.
    Thanks for taking the time to answer, I know that we trolls have a bit of a bad rep on the internet due to a
    • by tbird81 (946205)

      Actually, the reason that some parts of chicken are white (e.g breast) while others are more brown (e.g. legs) is because of the type of muscle.

      Slow twitch has more mitochondria, so is browner. Fast twitch is whiter meat.

      So it's your personal preference as to the children you will eat.

  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Monday November 21, 2011 @02:25AM (#38121584)

    Former East Bloc (i.e. communist eastern Europe) looked at the proportion of red/white muscles to see who would become explosive or athlete. This is an extension, but down to the family level... Even worse.

    Thinking of the busy-body moms in today's China. Poor, poor kids. Jwish moms used to be seen as bad, overreacting psycho-freaks

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wendy-sachs/chinese-moms-vs-jewish-mo_b_807569.html [huffingtonpost.com]

    but, the Chinese are worse.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html [wsj.com]

    Soccer moms and Hockey dads, for what reason?

    Calm down, all you mothers from Hell.

  • Kids don't start to do any real sports until they are at least a few years old, by which time any half-decent parent will have already noticed what their kid is good at. Nobody needs this test.

  • Here's my concern (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday November 21, 2011 @08:35AM (#38122828)

    This will become yet one more thing some parents use to put unrealistic expectations on their kids. Sure, physical traits determine one's aptitude for sport (DUH); but almost all of us will never play at a level that has any financial impact on our lives; let alone at that elite pro level. Even at the top pro level the competition is so tough that few make a viable career of it.

    So now some parents will ratchet up their expectations and further push their kids towards an unrealistic goal. Instead of playing a sport because you enjoy it and reaping the benefits of that, they will be pushed into what they are good at.

    Real ability is a lucky combination of physical gifts, mental gifts and hard work. Even within a family one person may have it and another will be at best a journeyman player. Even so, as other's have pointed out a better marker may be having parent and grandparent or two that were world class athletes. Even then, you may just be a regression towards the mean.

    Of course, no one ever went broke betting on the stupidity of the American public or on the sports parent's willingness to shell out for any edge.

    I truly feel sorry for the kids - sports should be fun and a way to socialize; not yet another thing you must compete at and win for your parent's sake.

    Now, "GET OFF MY GRASS!!!"

    • The problem isn't tests like this, but people who are bad parents.

      A good parent could, if they even bothered with this kind of testing, use it in concert with their child's natural inclinations and interests to help suggest things the child might have more potential at, or expose them to those things. For a child who is very performance/mastery oriented, being pointed at something they could enjoy AND potentially be great at would be a boon.

      A bad parent would use the results of such a test to browbeat their

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