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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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  • 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 Elbereth ( 58257 ) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:18PM (#38120788) 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.

  • 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.

  • *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.
  • 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 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...
  • 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 DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Monday November 21, 2011 @12:31AM (#38121190) Homepage

    ...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 nature, it always seems to bitch-slap us back to a since of humility. Only this time the damage has already been done.

    No, I'm not looking forward to this technology. Not because it has the potential to save lives in specialized cases, but because of the wonton abuse of it. I voice an opinion that we shove this fucking genie back into it's bottle and hurl it into the core of our Sun.

  • 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 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" []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 21, 2011 @11:28AM (#38124276)

    It's not just sports. Sales, middle-management, and I'm sure a host of other jobs increasingly make impossible demands of people. No matter what you do, it isn't good enough. If you put in 90 hours a week, they ask why you didn't put in 120. It burns people to a crisp.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"