Monday, May 23, 2011

Genetic Testing To Find Your Inner All-Star

I tried gymnastics, cheerleading, basketball, and field hockey before I decided to stick with cheerleading. Most children, like me, will have tried at least three different sports by the time they are in middle school. According to The Washington Post, two companies have begun selling tests that claim to help match kids with the sports they are genetically programmed to play best.

The DNA scans, the first of an expected wave of attempts to use genes to enhance athletic performance, can steer children toward games they are most likely to win and perhaps get scholarships to play, the companies say. The tests also let children and adults tailor workouts to their innate skills, the firms say, as well as spot those prone to life-threatening heart problems, concussions and other injuries. “The main purpose of the test is to maximize performance in the minimum amount of time and minimize risk,” said Bill Miller, chief executive of American International Biotechnology
Services in Richmond, which began selling the test three weeks ago.

Critics, however, see the kits as the latest in a flood of questionable genetic tests that entrepreneurs are hawking. No one can accurately gauge the influence of genes on athletic abilities or vulnerabilities, they say. The results may be needlessly alarming or falsely reassuring, they say. Skeptics also fear that the trend will encourage overzealous parents and coaches to push kids into sports they dislike or discourage them from physical activities they enjoy and might succeed at despite their genes.

“This is really disturbing,” said Lainie Friedman Ross, a pediatrician and bioethicist at the University of Chicago. “Sports and physical activity should be fun for kids. It shouldn’t be, ‘You’re going to be the world’s greatest athlete’ or ‘Give up now, kid, because you won’t have a chance’ because of your genes.”

This seems like an article straight from the movie GATTACA. While our genes might hold some secrets into which sports we will be best at, I see more bad coming out of these tests than good. What if everyone is made to get these tests done before becoming part of a varsity sport? And what if their test comes back saying that they are not a good match for the sport? Can the coaches discriminate against them and not even let them tryout? I feel like this would become a big issue, because lets face it, sports coaches are out there to put together the best team possible and if someones genetic test says they're not a good match for the sport then coaches are probably going to cut them. Also, these tests take away the experiences a child gets from trying new sports. These experiences teach a child to persevere and how to fail. But with all those pushy parents out there, who want their child to be a super-star athlete, these tests might be done more often then we'd expect.

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