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DNA Testing For Athletic Ability

Cool or Not: DNA Testing For Athletic Ability

There's a new test in town, and it has me a little worried. Some parents are using a $149 home-analysis test from Atlas Sports Genetics to find out what types of sports their babies may have been born to play. The test involves swabbing the inside of the baby's mouth, and sending the swab to a lab where technicians look for variations of ACTN3, a DNA strand believed by some experts to predict particular athletic skills.

Different versions of the gene can make someone a more talented power-sports player or better suited for stamina-focused endurance sports, though unsurprisingly, there can be mixed results because we get one copy of the ACTN3 gene from each parent. Some sports psychologists and coaches are highly critical of the test and believe steering kids toward certain sports based on genetics is asking for trouble. One coach pointed out the test may measure natural talent but cannot measure an athlete's desire to succeed — just because you're good at something, does not mean you'll have the heart to achieve greatness.

Still, I can see how some parents might argue they are helping their kids by pointing them in the right direction to become accomplished athletes, by virtue of natural abilities. What do you think of this test, is it cool or not?


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