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DNA Test To Determine Kids' Sports Futures

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the ok-let's-watch-gattaca-again dept.

Biotech 240

bs0d3 writes "Parents are being sold on the idea of buying DNA tests for their kids, to find out which sports they will be better at. The company called Atlas is based in Boulder, Colorado; and is selling DNA tests for $160. They are looking for what's called the ACTN-three gene, the gene behind what is called 'fast-twitch explosive muscles.' Children that don't have ACTN-three will be better suited for endurance sports like long distance running or swimming. Children that have a lot of it will be better suited for sports like football, rugby, wrestling, or hockey. Kids that have some ACTN-three will not be the fastest and not the slowest, they don't burn out the quickest and they don't last the longest. They are categorized as capable of playing just about any type of sport they like."

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How about (2, Funny)

bobstreo (1320787) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120732)

How will their performance be in Madden Games?

Re:How about (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38120830)

Send me $100 & a blood sample and I'll analyze your DNA and tell you if you have the gullibility gene.

Re:How about (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38120922)

I can do better. Here's a genetic sports test for free.

Is your kid a nigger? Then they'll just love basketball. No charge.

Re:How about (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121018)

how can I tell if my kid is a nigger?

Re:How about (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121138)

Tell him to do some work. Two things could happen that will prove him a nigger:
1: He refuses and robs you at gun point
2: He starts singing negro spirituals and calls you massa.

Of course, if your child is black, you are probably black, in which case you won't be there to run this simple test. Good luck!

Re:How about (2)

VillageDolt (1223292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121394)

Dude, 4chan is thataway.

I think this is great. (5, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120742)

Great idea. I'm glad this service exists. You know what it's going to be really good for?

Lying. Saving your money but telling your kid you ran the test anyway, and what it said.

Re:I think this is great. (2)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120842)

Lying. Saving your money but telling your kid you ran the test anyway, and what it said.

Given that it is only $160, I think it will more likely be used to put a "scientific" backing to parents berating/nagging their kids for not working hard enough... "Jimmy, you have all this potential, the scientific test we ran on you proves it, you need to run faster to get gold medals! Stop slacking off and train harder already - make us proud!"

Re:I think this is great. (5, Interesting)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120884)

No shit. My kid (who's a better than average swimmer) won't go to the State competition anymore as he's seen too many parents yelling at their kids. "How come you didn't win? You really screwed up!" - to a 7 year old.

I'm backing him 100% on that. Yup, he's qualified, he's fast, and he's good but it's just no fun to watch parents be assholes.

So where's the "I really want to do it" gene? My daughter is not as good a swimmer but she's highly coveted by her team because she really wants to be there. She'll never get above middle of the pack, but every coach wants her on their team - because she works harder than anyone else and loves it, and encourages everyone around her.

Where's the gene for that?

This will be used by parents to beat up on their kids; parents who never were more than middle of the pack anything, now are 100 lbs overwieght, but know their kid is the next Michael Phelps. Blech.

Re:I think this is great. (4, Interesting)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121146)

Thanks for the sanity.

Extreme competition ruins a lot of sports and athletes. The experience and the joy of training/playing is lost and replaced by this constant stress to fare better than others. This doesn't happen to everyone, of course, but I know a lot of people who have been "shamed" (many times by themselves) into stopping all activity because they're not good enough. And lack of practice only makes it worse for a potential comeback.

It even happens with simple things like jogging.

That said. I don't think such a test is inherently bad. If you know that your son has good chances at being better at something, you might think it's a good idea to let him try out those sports to see if he enjoys them and can exploit that "advantage". Just as long as you don't become a maniac who will psychologically pressure the kid into madness nor bet highly on his earnings as sport-star (the potential gold mine kid doesn't usually end well).

Re:I think this is great. (4, Interesting)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121376)

Thanks for the sanity.

Extreme competition ruins a lot of sports and athletes. The experience and the joy of training/playing is lost and replaced by this constant stress to fare better than others.

It isn't just psychological, there can be long-term physical damage. Gymnasts often experience wrist and ankle issues from over training.

“Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Girls_in_Pretty_Boxes [wikipedia.org]

Re:I think this is great. (2)

SniperJoe (1984152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121182)

I think that's the nurture part of the "nature vs. nurture" debate, which illustrates the main flaw with the DNA test indicating sports aptitude:

No matter how good your genes are, you need to have the will and mental fortitude to work hard and shape your raw talent.

The best genes in the world cannot cure apathy. On a personal note, kudos to both your children. As a former competitive swimmer, I have seen exactly what your son has spoken about and it saddens me. I have also tried to be a hard worker and encourage others (as your daughter does). Athletes tend to be competitive people and by design, we don't like seeing people working harder than us, so its easy for such a personality to drive the team as whole to higher levels of performance.

Re:I think this is great. (4, Interesting)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121252)

As a former competitive swimmer, I have seen exactly what your son has spoken about and it saddens me. I have also tried to be a hard worker and encourage others (as your daughter does). Athletes tend to be competitive people and by design, we don't like seeing people working harder than us, so its easy for such a personality to drive the team as whole to higher levels of performance.

I have to give a lot of credit to the head coach; he's been at it for 33 years and his goal is to create lifetime athletes. He doesn't care if you do well today; he wants your best every day, and he's willing to work at it. Our team has not won a relay ever (I think) since he puts one new/weak swimmer in every time. One time my son - then 9 - swam with the 15 year olds. They got their butt kicked but they all had a grand time; the high schoolers because they had no pressure to win, and my 9 year old because they all welcomed him and treated him as an equal.

Part of it is also that we're all athletes to some extent; my wife is a distance runner and I'm an endurance cyclist so we know how hard it is to push every day. We know that our kids need encouragement and time off. Sometimes you have a great day, and sometimes you have a crappy day.

Re:I think this is great. (1)

Artifex (18308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121288)

No shit. My kid (who's a better than average swimmer) won't go to the State competition anymore as he's seen too many parents yelling at their kids. "How come you didn't win? You really screwed up!" - to a 7 year old.

I'm backing him 100% on that. Yup, he's qualified, he's fast, and he's good but it's just no fun to watch parents be assholes.

So where's the "I really want to do it" gene? My daughter is not as good a swimmer but she's highly coveted by her team because she really wants to be there. She'll never get above middle of the pack, but every coach wants her on their team - because she works harder than anyone else and loves it, and encourages everyone around her.

Where's the gene for that?

There is no gene for the human spirit. -- Gattaca.

Re:I think this is great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121414)

Great quote from an excellent movie. My thoughts exactly with your reply

Re:I think this is great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121340)

Some youth sports programs have gone to hell in a handbasket, that's for sure. I last played school sports 7 years ago in middle school. It was quite fun for me because I was able to play and participate despite being only mediocre. Although the hyperactive parent promoters were there, they did not rule the program. Now my little brother is opting not to participate in the same program because the program has morphed into on that seeks to only promote its stars and use everyone else as a benchwarmer. Fortunately for him he has found a new program (and a new sport) where he can still play, but given the trends I wonder if there will be anything like that left in another 7 years.

AKA: The Vincent Freeman Gene (2)

cmholm (69081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121386)

> So where's the "I really want to do it" gene?

Right on. That was the core message from "Gattica", that the will to do it can mean more than the theoretical ability to... as I saw all too many times in high school and university.

Until we plug into that, the ACTN-3 is going to be just the beginning of a long, painful road.

Re:I think this is great. (2)

stephathome (1862868) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121420)

Thank you. My son plays soccer in an under 8 age range, and his last game was against a team with a really serious coach. She was screaming so much at the kids on her team, that parents on ours started cheering for the kids to just have fun. She was really ridiculous, especially when our team managed to tie the game for a time. Tough game, other team won, but I think our team enjoyed themselves more and I'll take that, especially at so young an age.

Give the kids tips on doing better, sure. But there's no need to expect them to win every game or to be the best. Not like it's likely to be a career for most kids anyhow, and even then there's no need to get so serious this young. Let them love their sport. Win or lose, having fun is what keeps them going.

Re:I think this is great. (1)

evil_aaronm (671521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121424)

Seen wrestling parents, lately? You want the definition of "asshole," look no further. It's messed up when a parent or coach is yelling in disgust at a noob four or five years old because they're on their back in their first or second match. And, of course, these parents / coaches are likely to be the fat, beer-drinking rednecks who would probably have a massive coronary 30 seconds into a match of their own, if they had the stones to strap on a pair of wrestling shoes and toe the line.

My son wrestled and did well: a two-time state rep from NY - before they did the two division crap. However, he never did anything that I wouldn't do, including starving himself to make weight during the weekend tournaments, doing extra work after practice, etc. If he was suffering, so was I. I scheduled my work day so I could be at practice almost every day, and often drilled with him in his group. He graduated a few years ago and we're as tight as could be: There's a deep mutual respect because we know the hardships each of us has gone through.

Way too many parents, today, are looking for a meal ticket on the backs of their kids, and their only "skin in the game" is driving the kid to practice or a meet. Fuckers.

Re:I think this is great. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38120866)

I think I'd feel awful telling a kid, "No, you shouldn't play hockey because you have genetic indicators that say you probably don't have the very best type of muscle development for the game."

All kinds of kids become really, really good at various sports because... surprise of surprises... the work really hard at it.

Re:I think this is great. (1)

muindaur (925372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121278)

Yeah, I was glad my parents let me play the sports I wanted to for the most part. Little league baseball was fun, but I wish I could have played ice hockey (there just wasn't a rink nearby and within their budget.) I never wanted to play football as a kid, and liked basketball as a winter sport. Though my parents were probably happy with those two because they are dirt cheap for working class parents. Just pay the fee for little league (covers the numbered shirt), and a glove lasts a few years. It was the same for basketball. The only real costs was the new cleats and basketball shoes each year.

Poor kids these days get their parents sports failures pushed on them. Sometimes my team won, mostly we lost, but we still had fun (still sore about the head of the league adding three innings five minutes before the cut off time after the standard six innings so his team could come back for a win.) In high school I switched to track to go from 80s to 90s in PE, and participate in a sport with practice that was more laid back for the throwers. Maybe I was terrible, but hanging out with people I liked more often was nice. Meets meant a great deal of sitting on your ass in the grass waiting for your event, and then warming up shortly before.

If there's a will... (1)

phobafiliac (704426) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120744)

Can they test for will & determination?

In Vitro (4, Insightful)

TheMiddleRoad (1153113) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120748)

That'll be when the fun begins. Until then, it's just a mindfuck.

This is too easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38120764)

What a waste of money.

If your son is born without a penis, he can play badminton. If your daughter looks like a guy, she'll do well in the broad jump.

nexr,

Cue the whining about modern society... (4, Interesting)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120788)

I predict a strong showing of reactionary "what's wrong with people today?" comments. I have to wonder if getting an ultrasound was originally greeted with as much crankiness as I often see from articles like this.

Myself, I'm a relentless progressive. So much so, I thought Gattaca looked kind of nifty.

Of course, sometimes I say that just see the horrified expressions on people's faces.

Re:Cue the whining about modern society... (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120846)

"Of course, sometimes I say that just see the horrified expressions on people's faces."

8-0

Re:Cue the whining about modern society... (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121352)

yeah, support genetic engineering, and people think you're friggin' Hitler. (but in all seriousness, I'm tempted to think that racists/anti-Semites/etc make the concept look worse than it actually is.)

Re:Cue the whining about modern society... (5, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120878)

The real whining that this test deserves is that it is (like a fair few of the hokier genetic tests) overwhelmingly likely to be as or less predictive than a simple family history.

Because modest amounts of sequencing have gotten so cheap, tests of this flavor don't tend to be outright lies(they do, indeed, usually test precisely what they claim to test); but the sales pitch inevitably glosses over the fact that only a few phenotypic characteristics are actually wholly determined by the single gene they can economically sample for.

There are a few conditions that are sufficiently well understood, and causally simple, that you can actually get a "Yes/No" out of a genetic test; but they are rare, and this is unlikely to be one of them.

I'd certainly be delighted to see genetic defects avoided, and useful genetic traits made more commonly available, but I'm not impressed by the chances of opportunistic lab-coated fortune tellers being the ones who get us there...

Re:Cue the whining about modern society... (1, Troll)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120896)

If you're in favor of a Gattaca future, you're a straight up fascist. Just thought I point that out FYI.

Re:Cue the whining about modern society... (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121060)

That was the bit that really disappointed me about GATTACA: Instead of focusing on the genuinely interesting question of 'What happens when we can't even pretend that all men are created equal, and we can control a whole lot of you that used to be a roll of the dice?', it basically just did a slightly-futuristic totalitarian apartheid morality tale, where nobody actually gives a damn about the fact that genetic engineering actually makes you better, because they are too busy shoving around the non-genetically-engineered...

Earth to repressive future: If genetic engineering actually makes people superior, you wouldn't need a massive surveillance state dedicated entirely to keeping the inferiors in line, you'd just need a lightweight meritocracy...

Re:Cue the whining about modern society... (2, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121190)

...or a culling of the herd. Once you've established upon a factual sense of superiority through genetic engineering, social dynamics radically shift. If you thought racism was bad pre and post civil war, you've haven't seen nothing yet. It may take several hundred years, but I can see future where the face of humanity forks in divergence in ways never thought possible. Think about it, engineered labor slaves, sex slaves, super nerds, super soldiers, super hybrids...ect. And no matter how much we play with nature, it always seems to bitch-slap us back to a since of humility. Only this time the damage has already been done.

No, I'm not looking forward to this technology. Not because it has the potential to save lives in specialized cases, but because of the wonton abuse of it. I voice an opinion that we shove this fucking genie back into it's bottle and hurl it into the core of our Sun.

Re:Cue the whining about modern society... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121208)

I voice an opinion that we shove this fucking genie back into it's bottle and hurl it into the core of our Sun.

great idea! for that, we'll need a super astronaut

Re:Cue the whining about modern society... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121224)

Think about it, engineered labor slaves, sex slaves, super nerds, super soldiers, super hybrids...ect.

As dystopias go, it seems better than where we're headed now. Brave New World over 1984.

Re:Cue the whining about modern society... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121356)

What did you expect? The story was written by one of those poor unfortunate inferior non-genetically engineered authors...

Re:Cue the whining about modern society... (3, Interesting)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120918)

Gattaca was nifty. When given a choice between a long, healthy life, or a shorter one subject to disease and illness, people ought to be horrified that anyone would choose the latter for their children. Who wouldn't want a society where illness and disease had been pretty much eliminated, and where every child that was born could expect a long and healthy life? The only problem was the in-valids, those who hadn't been genetically engineered. But in the real world we could expect those people to be a very small proportion of the population - when genetic engineering gives certain children such a big advantage as portrayed in the film, the first political party to propose that it be provided as a government-funded service will be elected, and it will be declared a "right" available to all couples.

Re:Cue the whining about modern society... (5, Insightful)

polymeris (902231) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121068)

when education gives certain children such a big advantage as portrayed in the film, the first political party to propose that it be provided as a government-funded service will be elected, and it will be declared a "right"

when health care gives certain children such a big advantage as portrayed in the film, the first political party to propose that it be provided as a government-funded service will be elected, and it will be declared a "right"

Sadly, I don't think it works quite like that. Not everywhere, at least.

Re:Cue the whining about modern society... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121130)

I'm largely in agreement with your point, I just thought that Gattaca was a pretty terrible demonstration of its own premise...

I've never understood the ethical calculus where people who, say, negligently expose children to conditions that create a risk of morbidity or mortality(unfenced swimming pools, prenatal drugs, neglect, etc, etc.) are looked down on as scum; but people who negligently expose children to (known) risks of heritable disease are generally not condemned, sometimes even looked on as courageous or such.

Were genetic engineering (of sufficient maturity) available, it seems like the incentive to provide it broadly or universally would not only be populist appeal; but pragmatics: illness, weakness, stupidity, etc. are all expensive, and they usually bleed over on to those who live nearby(not to mention the emotional costs). Being able to reliably turn out people with the best body and mind genetic factors can offer would likely be an excellent investment.

Gattaca, unfortunately, gave it all up to tell a little story about a society that dumped (as best the viewer could tell) an enormous level of resources into actively repressing the non-engineered, without any particular effort to judge them on their merits. It ended up basically being a story about Jim Crow laws or caste systems with a spacesuit on...

Even easier (5, Insightful)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120792)

There's an even easier test. Look at your kid's birthday. Now look at the cutoff date between age brackets for each sport. Now pick the one where your kid will always be the oldest player on the field. More physical development = wins more = gets more practice AND likes the sport more = positive skill-building feedback loop.

Re:Even easier (5, Informative)

Zirbert (1936162) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120938)

Exactly. Much of Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers [gladwell.com] , is devoted to explaining this principle. I put an article about it on my blog [blogspot.com] a while ago, but far more importantly, it's been on Cracked.com [cracked.com] .

You forgot the little well-known fact... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121402)

...that a too small challenge is just as bad as a too big one. They get bored. Exactly like with a game that's too easy. Like those who were bad at school because they were bored.

Game designers and motivation experts know, that it's the difference of your skill level and the difficulty level of your task that demotivates. The closer they are, the more motivating it will be. And genius is a high skill at choosing tasks of the difficulty that's closest to your skills. As there is no such thing as "being born a genius" or "talent". (Ok, genius secondly also requires the ability to structure one's thoughts, so that they are always in few enough groupings that they can stay in active short-term memory at the same. Naturally in a association graph.)

The essence of all learning and sports⦠is simply games. If you can make a good game, you can make a good environment for your kids to learn and improve in. That's it.

Here's mine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38120796)

"Indoor Kid."

Re:Here's mine (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120848)

Exactly. Where's the gene that says I might have a decent shot at bowling, but other than that, stick to the computer?

Re:Here's mine (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121120)

It's called the bathroom scales, fatty

So is everyone good at least one type of sport (2)

drumlight (1244276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120804)

This sounds really stupid and surely you end up best at the sport you enjoy and practice the most. I think this will just show which parent have the pushiness gene.

Re:So is everyone good at least one type of sport (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38120836)

Yes, of course, genetic potential has nothing to do with it. I'll just keep practicing basketball, I'm sure there are lots of dwarves in the NBA.

What *are* dwarves good at? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120910)

AC's ironic remark raises the question: in what sport would people of short stature have an advantage?

Re:What *are* dwarves good at? (1)

thopkins (70408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120942)

Wrestling, gymnastics, motor sports, doesn't hurt you in soccer.

Re:What *are* dwarves good at? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38120954)

Equestrian

Re:What *are* dwarves good at? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120964)

Well, surviving a long, cold winter on meager rations isn't considered a "sport," so let's say... jockey?

Re:What *are* dwarves good at? (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120992)

Endurance activities where having a larger body means higher calorie burn to move it around. Ultra-marathoners tend to be short and slim. Also rock climbing, where obviously a larger frame means you are fighting gravity so much more. And any sport where participation is divided into categories based on weight: boxing, judo (lower center of gravity is good here too, also for gymnastics). And any sport where the ability to accelerate smaller mass limbs provides an advantage, table tennis might fit here.

Re:What *are* dwarves good at? (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121044)

Bigger Is Better, Except When It’s Not. [nytimes.com] Interesting article. They say distance running and cycling.

Based on *one* gene? (1)

POTSandPANS (781918) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120820)

Seems useless unless you can find one that will predict what sport the kid will enjoy the most. Enjoying a sport will have a much bigger effect than anything else.

I bet (1)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120822)

I bet there are loads of top athletes without this gene. I wonder if Usain Bolt has this gene.

Screening for athleticism, and "intelligence" based on today's limited knowledge of genetics and biology of athleticism is dumb, and will probably remain dumb for at least 50 to 100 years.

Re:I bet (1)

RebelWithoutAClue (578771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121410)

It is very rare that athletes have no copies of the fast twitch gene.

I have a better test. (1, Troll)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120826)

White or black?

White: hockey, baseball, football (offensive lineman, quarterback, kicker)

Black: basketball, football

Although to get real for a moment, I think it's interesting that hockey has by far the largest race discrepancy. Typically you think of basketball and football being dominated by blacks and it mostly is, but when you look at it there is a decent chunk of whites in both (perhaps not at the skill positions, but there are a lot of role players). When you come to hockey, however, it doesn't even average one per team. I understand the teams are smaller and it is a more expensive sport to get into, but I just find it interesting how the topic of race is brought up more readily in basketball and football and very infrequently (if ever) in hockey. Granted there was the recent banana incident, but that's not the kind of discussion I'm talking about. It seems like hockey gets mostly a free pass; I guess blacks just don't really give a fuck about it.

Re:I have a better test. (2)

uncqual (836337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121082)

You know, golf and tennis are "white folk" sports also. It's unfortunate that the Williams sisters and Tiger Woods didn't know that -- they could have saved themselves from the agony of success.

fast twitch muscle? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120832)

I always thought the crucial gene for high school (and junior high) sports was how soon you grow tall, and how tall (and big) you actually get. Fast twitch or slow twitch is just a minor adjustment compared to those.

What if your unborn child is a future computer gee (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120840)

-k?

There are countries where ultrasounds are popular for determing the gender of unborn children. that way you can abort the girls.

Re:What if your unborn child is a future computer (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120930)

Well, given that selective female infanticide is driven by an underlying set of economic beliefs, with a surface coating of culturally localized misogyny, I suspect that the ability to prenatally identify computer geeks is rapidly drawing to the end of where it would be used to select against them. The cultural layer is taking longer to break down; but the economics of being a geek vs. being an athlete haven't exactly been tilting in the athlete's favor lately...

Incidentally, I always have to wonder how long it will take before countries with an enthusiasm for female infanticide will have it bite them in the ass and force a (likely very ugly) midcourse correction: Demanding dowries isn't going to work so well when there are 150 men per 100 women, and history suggests that young men with no real chance of getting married, or even getting laid, tend to take up unpleasant hobbies like crime and politics with considerable enthusiasm...

When in doubt, invade Poland. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121126)

That's a great way to get rid of a lot of men.

It's only bad if you're Polish or anyone else attacked, or anyone who comes to the defense of Poland, or...

I wonder if blow up dolls could prevent World War III?

Re:What if your unborn child is a future computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121180)

young men with no real chance of getting married, or even getting laid, tend to take up unpleasant hobbies like slashdot with considerable enthusiasm...

Fix'd

Re:What if your unborn child is a future computer (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120948)

Sad but true. A bunch of savages people are.

Re:What if your unborn child is a future computer (1)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121390)

don't worry, if used for gender bigotry, the institutionalized misandry of today will ensure that the technique will be used to abort boys first...and it won't get mentioned by the media and no one will care.

from the ok-let's-watch-gattaca-again dept. (1)

apcullen (2504324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120876)

tagline kinda says it all, doesn't it?

Gattaca (5, Insightful)

bazald (886779) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120880)

Well, if that isn't the start of Gattaca-esque trait selection, I don't know what is. Just don't let anyone select candidates for sports on the basis of the gene, okay? Give people with or without the gene a chance of doing what they like best, regardless of the statistics.

Re:Gattaca (5, Funny)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121016)

Came looking for the Gattaca reference. Leaving satisfied.

--
BMO

Re:Gattaca (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121374)

Black market for kid's sports gene test data created! That's pretty much what would happen.

How to make superhumans (1)

Hermanas (1665329) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120882)

Step 1: Find a method to determine skill (in whatever desired area) from DNA.

Step 2: Find a method to artificially combine two DNA strands that doesn't take more than a day or so.

Step 3: Be able to grow a fully-functional human from the DNA generated in Step 2.

Step 4: Start with the DNA of a few hundred people (preferably top athletes), and apply a evolutionary algorithm to combine, test, combine test, etc.

Result: Within weeks, not centuries, you'll have the DNA for super-athletes, super-nerds or super-soldiers. We're almost there!

Re:How to make superhumans (1)

fonitrus (1763632) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120960)

or the tried and tested method. 1. Enslave a race. 2. Bring the strong ones to your country. 3. Breed the strongest males with the toughest females. 4. Repeat the process for 500 years. 5. Abolish slavery and create the NBA and NFL. 6. DOMINATE!!!!!

Re:How to make superhumans (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120990)

And super slaves. The kind that are genetically engineered to depend on an artificial enzyme to survive. Should a slave flee, this neo-sapean would shortly die without daily or weekly injections. ST DS9 featured a race in which the founders did exactly that.

*sigh* (5, Interesting)

Zaldarr (2469168) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120888)

Ugh. Anyone who knows anything about genetics has the understanding that we do not know nearly enough what genes or combinations of make anything a dead cert. Yes, they can be indicators, but it all should be taken with all the grains of salt in the Dead Sea. But I will applaud the fact that someone, yet again, is making money off idiots. Good luck to them.

Better Way (5, Informative)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120944)

A more accurate method of determining one's optimal sport is to do a muscle biopsy. It takes an insignificant amount of muscle and compares the ratio of fast, intermediate, and slow twitch muscle fibers. I highly doubt that a single gene can be used to reliably predict that ratio.

OTOH, most people figure this out in childhood. Either you excel at sprinting, distance, or are mediocre at both. Plus, factors like body habitus play a greater effect than raw muscle composition, and practical experience is the only thing that factors everything in. But that's kinda irrelevant. Let the kid do what they like rather than push them into something they're most likely to win at. They'll probably wind-up picking their optimal sport anyway, and if their parents think the lost year or two of grade school training is a problem then there are some serious issues at hand.

Re:Better Way (3, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121098)

But here's a question.

Does certain types of sport encourage the growth of one type of muscle cell over another?

Roger Williams noted that nearly all the native americans excelled at running if they weren't lame from injury. They did because they started running as little kids all the way through adulthood (Route 44 in RI is known as Wampanoag Trail, which was a running trail back in the day). The same can be said for what seems to be the national sport of Kenya - the reason why there are so many Kenyan champion runners is that it's what everybody does growing up.

Also, fast twitch vs slow twitch does not take into account the dynamics of a person's skeleton. All the fast twitch in the world is not going to help you in sprinting when your bones aren't optimal for it.

There are so many factors in being good at a sport, a single genetic test is not going to tell you anything. This is barely a step above waving a dead chicken, which will do more harm than good if you ask me.

>Let the kid do what they like

I can't agree more.
--
BMO

Re:Better Way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121412)

Wait a minute, now. You said you were leaving [slashdot.org] .

Or... (2)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 2 years ago | (#38120966)

The parents could just look at themselves... A *ton* of pro athletes have pro athlete dads/moms. There is a reason why a lot of brothers and sisters make it together to the top tier. It's in their DNA, and the family knows it.

And honestly, you want to look at the twitch muscle gene? How about height and build? You have to paint a picture that predicts accurately a child's build at 18. There is no one gene.

I wonder if the logic holds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38120980)

[QUOTE]"They are categorized as capable of playing just about any type of sport they like"[/QUOTE]

I am pretty sure that if the kids have all their limbs, and aren't mentally handicapped, that no matter what level of ACTN-III they might have, they qualify to play any sport they like.

Kinda like anyone is capable of posting on slashdot, although some are more capable than others.

republican health care plan uses tests preexisting (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121010)

Some day DNA tests will be used used to black list people on to the preexisting list if we keep the old system in place. This is down side to tests like this.

Current athletes who shouldn't be in their sport? (1)

themightythor (673485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121012)

What'd be interesting to me is if you administered this test to current athletes and found the ones who the test wouldn't have predicted would be good. I can only think of a few sports where only one thing is the determinant for success. Those sports are typically ones in which you're not dealing with other people directly. So, track and field, and weightlifting. In every other sport that I can imagine, there's an element of having to react to another human being's actions. And sometimes, if you're really good at that and making appropriate decisions based on it, you can beat the guy with better size/speed/power.

Re:Current athletes who shouldn't be in their spor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121140)

Don't forget that one gene ain't gonna do shit if the stupid parents depend on it to do everything for them, and raise their kid on lard and high fructose corn syrup and a couch and TV...

One isn't enough but it's a good start (1)

erick99 (743982) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121030)

One gene and probably just one trait. How much can you infer from a single trait other than you have at least one ingredient for a recipe for whatever skill or gift is desired.

How about no sports? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121034)

Why does every single kid have to play sports now? It seems like every precious little snowflake HAS to be some wannabe sports superstar nowadays.

Sports is a giant clusterfuck of machismo brainless competition garbage. There are much better ways to keep your kid active without signing them up to some stupid team sport bullshit where you (and them) have to spend every free moment in practice or at a game or some other bullshit, time better spent on education and LEARNING.

But no, we don't want that. We want dumb kids to grow up playing or watching the sport-of-the-week and not having any real education so they're not smart enough to see how we, as a society, are pretty much fucked.

Re:How about no sports? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121078)

We haven't decoded DNA well enough to create a test to determine whether or not little Johnny will be a mathlete yet.

Re:How about no sports? (1)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121116)

Good point.
Mod parent up.

Re:How about no sports? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121318)

Must be pretty shitty to get picked last every time. Guess that what happens when you spend more time whining on slashdot then going outside though.

Starcraft is a sport? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121056)

the gene behind what is called 'fast-twitch explosive muscles.'

Sounds like competitive Starcraft ability right there. That's a sport right?

Bad apples (1)

Jazari (2006634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121076)

It's too bad that such crooks discredit the entire genome testing industry. I've personally been very satisfied with https://www.23andme.com/ [23andme.com] , due in large part to their very rigorous criteria before claiming any effect from any particular gene.

Football (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121102)

...better suited for endurance sports like long distance running or swimming. Children that have a lot of it will be better suited for sports like football...

Football IS an endurance sport. The amount of running needed over the full 90 minutes of a game is easily up there with some of the longest track events. Or did they mean some other game? (clue: if it's played exclusively with the feet it's football).

Re:Football (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121214)

Football IS an endurance sport. The amount of running needed over the full 90 minutes of a game is easily up there with some of the longest track events.

The players away from the ball are mostly standing still or adjusting their positions at walking pace. You don't usually see that on TV, though - the camera tends to follow the ball.

if it's played exclusively with the feet it's football

Headers. Goalkeepers.

So, here's some old data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121144)

Back in my serious cycling days the theory was that up until about 18-20 one could change the ratio of slow/fast twitch fibers in your muscles. The test was archaic: Stand next to a wall. Reach as high on the wall as you can. Make a mark on the wall. Then jump as high as you can and touch the wall. Have someone mark it. The ratio between the two marks was indicative of the amount of fast twitch muscle fibers you had. If you also had money you would just get a biopsy and be done with it. :)

I happened to be a roadie but twitch didn't matter because I didn't have the competetive nature you also need to be a great cyclist (It's a great sport but it's stupidly brutal in its own way). Something for you lame-assed parents to remember if you're thinking of retiring on your child's suffering.

Athletes depend on mind more than muscle (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121152)

Anyone who wants to really go anywhere in any sport has to put a great deal of time into training. That's often not very fun, and a lot of it is done totally alone, like starting out each day by running a few miles, even if the weather is crappy.

While having the right kind of muscles for the sport will contribute to one's success, far more important is the mental determination and discipline.

By contrast, there are plenty of highly overweight couch potatoes who have lost all their weight and achieved good health and good looks through regular exercise and improved diet. It doesn't matter how badly out of shape you are, if you can get the mindset to be physically fit, you can achieve it.

I rather enjoy heavy physical exercise, but I avoid sports like the fucking plague. There is just about nothing about any sport that I enjoy. But as a child I was always heavily into bicycling. I would ride off many, many miles farther than my parents ever realized I was going, or that today's parents would allow their children to ride unaccompanied.

The difference between cycling for me and most other sports is that I don't compete, nor do I ride with others. I do it for the experience of cycling, and not for what I can achieve.

Now suppose my parents had sensed my innate interest in cycling and pushed me to be an olympic cycler. That would have made my childhood a living Hell.

I don't see any good coming from this test. Kids get plenty of opportunity to find out what sports they are good at in gym class. All I see coming from this test is that parents will try to fulfill their sick fantasies by forcing their kids into sports that they have the genetic markers for, but no real desire to participate in.

Missing option (1)

NF6X (725054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121168)

So, lots of ACTN-three makes children well-suited for football and the like, while no ACTN-three makes them well-suited for long distance running and so forth. And a medium level of ACTN-3 lets kids play any sport they like. But which gene makes children well-suited for slouching on the sofa while cramming Cheesy-Poofs into their pie-holes?

Scammers gonna scam. (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121170)

Sure, genetics have a lot to do with success at sport but will and determination are far more important.

LK

Who cares what they're good at?! (5, Insightful)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121178)

Producing a top sportsperson is not the goal of raising a child.

They should be raised healthy, happy, and with good habits.

They have to be encouraged to do whatever form of sport/exercise they are willing/happy to do.

"Have a lot of it"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121204)

Having a lot of a gene is an interesting concept. Does it somehow metastisize?

This is a scam (1)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121212)

Well, not really a scam, but it's incredibly overpriced and gives you no useful information. That gene has very little effect outside of maybe the elite of the elite. Your body shape contributes much much more to your "ideal" sport. (More important is what the kid enjoys.)

For $200, you can test 500,000 SNPs with 23andMe, get much more useful health info plus ancestry information.

My result from 23andMe:
rs1815739:CT "One working copy of alpha-actinin-3 in fast-twitch muscle fiber. Many world-class sprinters and some endurance athletes have this genotype."

I've actually seen a number of companies that test for a few SNPs, charging $hundreds and making misleading claims. I can't say for sure if they're fly-by-nighters out to make a buck, but there are much cheaper ways of getting more information.

Re:This is a scam (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121368)

Totally agree on the price. 23andme.com periodically runs specials at $99, they've even done FREE+S&H, (with $9/month for a year commitment) and provides a ton of results on disease susceptibility, carrier status, traits, and continuing results as research comes in plus their ancestry and "cousins" angle, message boards, and informative blogs.

I don't know. They say I'm "CC" with two working copies of ACTN3 and I've never played "football, rugby, wrestling, or hockey" but I did finish three marathons in my early thirties. Seems like total reflex response time often has more practical value in sports than just "fast twitch muscle response" so it wouldn't surprise me if assessing the value of ACGN3 gets fuzzy.

Ticker Symbol Please! (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121218)

There is nothing better than a good scam I am in on. Desperate parents are a great source of revenue.

"... did we tell you name of the game boy,
we call it riding the gravy train."
[pf wywh].

Some more info re: the gene (5, Informative)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38121226)

Shameless (and copyvio) copy/paste from 23andMe [23andme.com] :

This gene produces a protein called alpha-actinin-3 that is only turned on in fast-twitch muscle fibers (the kind used for power events like sprinting or weightlifting). The protein forms part of the contractile machinery in muscle cells, where it is thought to play both structural and signalling roles.

The T version of the SNP in this gene prevents the full protein from being made. People with two copies of the T version thus have a total lack of alpha-actinin-3 in their fast-twitch muscle fibers. Those with the CT genotype have one functional copy of the gene and can still make the protein.

Surprisingly, a complete lack of the alpha-actinin-3 protein doesn't seem to cause any type of disease. This is probably because another closely related protein can step in for alpha-actinin-3 in people without a functional copy. The substitute protein likely does not perform its job as well as alpha-actinin-3, resulting in worse performance in power exercises.

Despite lack of a disease outcome, researchers wondered if the absence of alpha-actinin-3 might have an effect on athletic performance. Studies of elite athletes in Australia and Finland showed that power athletes—those whose performance depends on fast-twitch muscle fibers—were much more likely to have at least one working copy of the gene than non-athletes. In one study of Olympic power athletes (i.e., the best of the best), all had at least one working copy. Similar results were found in a study of Spanish professional soccer players.

But does alpha-actinin-3 make a difference for non-athletes? In fact, it does.

One study looked at a group of Greek teenagers who had been tested for a variety of fitness measures related to power and endurance sports. In this group, ACTN3 genotype had no effect on the girls, but boys with the TT genotype were significantly slower in a 40 m sprint. Interestingly, running was the only power event that the different versions of ACTN3 seemed to affect. For activities like throwing a basketball or jumping into the air, performance was unaffected by genotype.

Another study looked at arm strength in a group of people before and after 12 weeks of strength training. ACTN3 genotype appeared to have no effect in men, but women with the TT genotype had lower strength at the beginning of the study. After the training program women with the TT genotype—those without a working copy of alpha-actinin-3—had made greater gains than the women with at least one functioning copy. This was true in both European and Asian women.

Scientists aren't really sure why having alpha-actinin-3 would improve power performance. One theory is that the protein prevents damage in fast-twitch muscle fibers. The group who conducted the study of Greek teenagers thinks this explains why only running and not other power activities were affected by a lack of alpha-actinin-3. Running involves repeated use of the muscles, while jumping only uses muscles once: damage is not an issue.

The scientists who saw that women with the TT genotype were able to build up more strength than other women also think alpha-actinin-3 protects muscle fibers from damage. Muscle damage is what stimulates muscles to adapt and become stronger. Those with the TT genotype lack the protection against damage that alpha-actinin-3 normally provides, thus allowing a greater gain in strength.

Alpha-actinin-3 may also affect athletic performance by virtue of its effects on oxygen usage in muscle. Two studies (one in mice and one in humans) have shown that fast-twtich muscle fibers that lack functional copies of ACTN3 use more oxygen than those with at least one working copy. This type of metabolism might slow them down. Mice studies have also shown that these altered fibers are weaker and smaller than fibers containing alpha-actinin-3, but they are more efficient an resistant to fatigue—a situation that is better suited to endurance sports than sprinting.

mo3 ufp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121250)

to tHEm...then [goat.cx]

Pick a sport they enjoy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38121274)

You know, the kid will be good at the sport they ENJOY, rather than one determined by a DNA test.

Our middle child plays Rugby Union, a sport we would never have picked in a million years. But we discovered it, tried it, he enjoyed it, and 6 years later, he is still at it.

Tests be damned.

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