"Oh dear God, do we need more competition?" writes Circle of Moms member Katherine C. She's reacting to the announcement that new DNA tests can clue parents in to their children's native talent for a particular sport.
It seems at least two new companies, American International Biotechnology Services of Richmond, VA., and Atlas Sports Genetics of Denver, CO., are marketing DNA tests that can help families decide which sports to gear their would-be Olympians toward, according a story reported by the Washington Post.
"The main purpose of the test is to maximize performance in the minimum amount of time and minimize risk," Bill Miller, chief executive of American International Biotechnology, told the Post.
But many Circle of Moms members are critical, saying a genetic test can't possibly predict a child's passion for playing a particular sport. "I do not like the idea," says mother of three Tracy. A. "Isn't it hard enough to live up to expectations (your own, your parents', your friends') without a stupid piece of paper telling you that you should be great at cricket when you hate it? What if you love football but a piece of paper says you might be prone to concussions and you should never play it?"
She goes on to point out that a child's environment might also play a significant role in shaping his or her desire to play a particular sport: "If your family [members] are baseball fanatics and your test says that you will [be] better at ballet, what happens then?"
But some moms see an upside to knowing in advance which sports to enroll their children in — or to keep them away from. Jakki T., for one, notes that parents could save countless hours — and dollars — on sports their children don't like. "Someone might spend years taking little Josh or Sophie to soccer training, where they are quite ordinary, but wow — if they had tried swimming or rock climbing or archery they could have been exceptional! It doesn't mean you're a pushy parent, it would just help you find something your kid could be good at."
With the tests only recently available to consumers, it remains to be seen whether moms like Jakki T. will actually ante up the $169-$200 it costs to have a child's DNA tested.
In the meantime, there's criticism to be overcome. As pediatrician and bioethicist Lainie Friedman Ross of the University of Chicago told the Post, "This is really disturbing. 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."
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