March 5, 2024

Born to break records? Parents testing for sports gene

“What if my son could be a pro football player and I don’t know it?”
New York TimesWant to know if your child has the potential to be a sporting hero? For just US$149 an American company, Atlas Sports Genetics, will test kids for a single gene which is associated with athletic prowess. ACTN3 is a gene which instructs the body to produce a protein found specifically in fast-twitch muscles. Depending on which variant of the gene a child has, he or she could become a sprinter or an endurance runner.

"Finding any great Olympic athlete normally takes years to determine," says the company’s website. "What if we knew a part of the answer when we were born? Knowing what a person is born with can ensure they develop into the best athlete they can be."

Kevin Reilly, a former weight-lifting coach who is the president of Atlas, told the New York Times: "if you wait until high school or college to find out if you have a good athlete on your hands, by then it will be too late. We need to identify these kids from 1 and up, so we can give the parents some guidelines on where to go from there."

If children’s genetic results look promising, Atlas steers them in the direction of a related company, Epic Athletic Performance, a talent identification company for sport. "This is how we could stay competitive with the rest of the world," the company president says of genetic and physical testing. "It could, at the very least, provide you with realistic goals for you and your children."

Even though some doctors believe that the test is snake oil for the 21st century suckers, it has an almost irresistible appeal for some parents. "Parents will start to say, ‘I know one mom who’s doing the test on her son, so maybe we should do the test too,’" one mother said. "Peer pressure and curiosity would send people over the edge. What if my son could be a pro football player and I don’t know it?" ~ New York Times, Nov 29