Monday, March 12, 2012

The Genetics of Athleticism


Ever wonder how the super stars of a sport just happen to be so good? Although a lot of it is the immense effort, endless dedication, and countless hours that an athlete puts into it all (training, diet, exercise), sometimes there may be a little help from genetics. Some genes are said to control certain aspects of athleticism. Someone may be abnormally fast, jump extremely high, or kick with perfection. Wouldn't it be great to know which genes a person has and what they would be good at?
An article in the Washington Post says that tests are now being offered to parents to determine what their child's athletic strengths could be - based on their genetics. This will let parents know where they should steer their child in order for them to best utilize what they were born with. This will allow them to design and implement workouts fit for each individual. The tests are also useful in foreseeing any serious future health problems. Although controversial for testing on children, it is an example of how science can be put to use. One of the companies selling the tests say that the main purpose for them is to "maximize performance in the minimum amount of time and minimize risk."
With all things come skeptics. Many are disagreeing with the tests because they simply do not believe that genetics have anything to do with one's athletic capabilities and even if they did then it would be impossible to determine what one would be good at. It is also thought that parents and coaches, upon knowing the test results, will force and push kids into participating in sports that they do not want to participate in or that they will be pushed too far in the ones that they enjoy. There is also a concern that kids will be discouraged from participating in sports that "they would not be best capable of succeeding in" or that "would not best utilize what they were born to do."
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Whether these tests are right or wrong, their development and the science behind them that makes them possible is still something that should be appreciated.

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