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Biotech Science

DNA Test To Determine Kids' Sports Futures 240

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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:32PM (#38120866)
    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.
  • Gattaca (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bazald ( 886779 ) <bazald AT zenipex DOT 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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...
  • 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 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.

  • 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!!!"

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.