Lady Gaga sums it up best in her newest hit, "Born This Way": Whether you are alcoholic, gay, fat, liberal, promiscuous, or athletic, you can blame—or credit—your genes.

And now, in the case of the sports gene, you can even test your children to see whether or not they have the genetic aptitude for certain athletics. (Consider it long-term planning for the college scholarship search.) For the past few years, some parents have been availing themselves of a mail order do-it-yourself genetic test that indicates the presence of a gene variant linked to some athletic feats. For less than $200, the test can supposedly indicate whether or not your child has the genetic makings of a sprinter, jumper, kicker, lifter, or batter. The test centers on the gene ACTN3, known as the "speed gene," which influences production of a protein involved in certain muscle activity. Knowing a child's genetic predisposition for certain athletic qualities (or lack thereof) is seen by some parents as a way to channel their children to the activities in which they are genetically predetermined to have the most success.

Scientists, physicians, and other experts are rightly concerned about the tests, arguing that it's better to allow children to develop their skills and pursue their passions regardless of genetic makeup. A commentary published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association cautions physicians, "In the 'winning is everything' sports culture, societal pressure to use these tests in children may increasingly present a challenge."

Besides, researchers say, the genetics behind athletic ability are much more complex than the appearance of one particular variant. Apparently, most people have this gene variant, linked ...

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