Genetic Testing to Predict Sports Victory?

Genetic Testing to Predict Sports Victory?

The Olympics are here....and many of us want to be the next athletic superstar! Can we predict who has what it takes?

There are more and more reports about parents having their children genetically tested to predict if they will be good at certain sports. For a few hundred dollars, parents can send in a swab of their child’s cheek cells to see if they have the genetic makeup of an endurance or speed athlete.

While interesting in theory, how accurate or predictive is this? Can one gene or one test really tell it all? Aren’t the human body and the world of sports a bit more complex than that? What about the gene for hard work and determination…isn’t that important in sports?

There are some high level athletes, who according to these tests, would not excel at the sports at which they have excelled. Isn’t it just better to let the kids decide? After all, just because you are deemed ‘genetically good’ at something doesn’t mean you will enjoy it or excel at it. Conversely, just because you like to do something, that doesn’t mean you have to be good (genetically) or the best at it to have fun.

I think we are too focused on winning and achieving and forget that physical activity, sports and participation should be fun! There are so many values associated with playing sports (i.e. sportsmanship, team building, confidence, honesty, and valor). Maybe instead of spending a few hundred dollars on a test, parents should take that money and invest it in their child or better yet, something they can do together. Go out and play a game of basketball or soccer with your child and then head out to dinner to spend time together.

In my opinion, being the best (while sometimes fun) isn’t always the most rewarding part of the experience. I would hate to discourage the next “superstar” or “everyday star” just because of one test, which may or may not predict anything useful.

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  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • American Association for Hand Surgery
  • American Academy Of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • The American Board of Pediatrics