Sunday, November 30, 2008

Genetic testing to determine if Little Johnny should be a sprinter or marathoner?


This article talks about a single human gene affecting whether muscles are better suited for speed and power (such as sprinting) or longer-term strength, such as distance swimming or running marathons. There's now a commercially available genetic test, so parents now have the capacity to figure out which types of sports might best suit their child's genetic makeup. Is this the direction in which our world is moving? Are there ethical issues here? Would you test your kids?

7 comments:

Period4_Avram said...

Overall, I think this is ridiculous. I think this for a number of reason.

1) Due to epistasis, so many things affect one's athletic abilities. Say that this testing does work. What it doesn't take into account is say, someone's leg length, of arm length. Now obviously, it doesn't always work, look at that jumper from Spain. So I guess my biggest problem with this is the 'science' it employs and the lack of testing of it.

2) I agree that most likely parents will end up putting to much pressure of their kids to follow these results. What if these results indicate someone would for example be good at football, but they wanted to play ultimate frisbee. The parents would probably be more inclined to say no if they got the test than if they didn't.

3) This would just be another bit of pressure added to kids already intense lives. Parents already put more than enough pressure on their kids to be good at sports, and this test would only increase that pressure.

So ultimately, I think it would be better if this test didn't exist.

Period3_danielokelly said...

I agree with Dr. Theodore Friedmann in his opinion that ACTN3 is useless. It appears that this genetic testing, although helpful to some extent, is much more complicated. Avrum is right in saying that atheltic success can be because of epistasis or some other explanation. An athlete could be successful at his sport because of intense training and proper nutrition. Also, for example, being tall and lanky could be the primary reason for a long distance runner's success. That can be determined without genetic testing.
Also for practical reasons, I am against the fact that children will know what sports their best at at a young age. One of the most enjoyable aspects of sports is experimenting. If your not good at one sport, you can try another one. Children should have the privilage of experimenting and the parents should not interfere. Our society is becoming more and more competitive. Parents are urging kids to become excelent athletes in hopes of recieving scholarships. The athletic pressure on a child might escalate to a certain point. This in turn might cause the child to lose interest in his or her sport which is something I am very much opposed to.

period7 annap said...

Upon reading this article, I found a few things that I strongly disagreed with. First, although Mrs. Campiglia says that this test will fit her son with the “right” activity, I think that this term cannot be fixed. I feel that the “right” sport or activity for any child is the one that he or she loves, and even if the child is terrible at the sport he/she chooses, it will always be the right choice if the child enjoys it. I know that many people may argue that playing a sport poorly is a waste of time and that being a benchwarmer is hardly helpful, but that’s what practice is for – you practice to get better, and eventually you’ll rise above the bench position and get to do what you really love to do.
Mrs. Campiglia’s next statement that this test will “prevent a lot of parental frustration” also bothers me –perhaps she and I just have two very different opinions on how the youth sporting world should work, but I feel that it shouldn’t be about the parents; they were kids once and they had their chances to be young athletes, now it is the child’s turn to do what he/she wants without parental intervention.
Third, I feel that the age at which children are eligible for this test is a bit absurd – infants cannot even talk, yet parents are already planning their sports careers? That just seems odd to me. And even for those parents who wait until their kids are 7 or 8 to take the test, does the average 8 year old really know what he/she wants? This whole process seems, to me, to be a way for parents to predetermine their children’s lives for them, and that is just something I cannot agree with.
In relation to science, I agree with both Daniel and Avram in the sense that this test is not the only thing that can determine athletic success - as they both said, we can’t just ignore the role of epistasis. I feel that there is not enough science to back this test up and make it a popular trend.

6thperiod*JCP* said...

I have several problems with this. I think there is the moral stuff, but before we can look at there are two incorrect assumptions behind this testing. First it assumes that every child can be an Olympic athlete or professional sports player, that its just about finding the right sport and starting training early. It important to remember that only maybe 1 in 10,000 people make it into professional sports. Everyone who takes the test will be told that they are best suited for 1 of the three categories, and parents are gonna see that and assume that their child is destined to be the next superstar in that sport. The article didn't even touch on the converse of the Spanish jumper. The millions of people out there who have these genes and just aren't good at the sport their supposed to be good at. I think there are kids out there who no matter how hard they try, they may just no be suited to play sports, whether its body type, or mental stuff, not every kid is destined to be the next Ussain Bolt. I really feel as if parents are going to subject their kids to this test then 99% of the parents will end up disappointed when their kid doesn't end up being the next athletic super star.
Those who are in favor of the testing all seem to have a olympic-centric view of sports. That the only reason these kids are out there playing pee-wee soccer is to train them for the olympics. These people are forgetting that kids play sports cause they enjoy it. I think that parents nee to keep this in mind and let their kids do what they enjoy. Parents have no way to know what their kids will grow up to be. So trying to train them for a future we can't predict is useless. At that point in their life the most useful thing is to let them have fun, and keep the possibilities open. when we start planning out futures for kids at age 3, then were just setting them up to fail. 9 out of 10 times that kids gonna get to highschool or college and realize he just isn't meant to be an athletic superstar or decide this isn't what he wants to do with his life, then he has nothing going for him, because his parents haven't given him any skills other than training him for this one sport.
Before we can even look at whether this is morally right or wrong we have to look at the naive mindset, that i outlined above, that has allowed this type of testing to become so popular.

period3_alice said...

I think the test is an interesting concept, but it also seems like a luxury. No one really needs to know whether their kid might be better at sprinting or running marathons. Plus, a great thing about growing up is figuring out what you're good at. I think that parents are too invested in seeing their kids succeed in sports. It is like the parents are trying to live out their own sports fantasies through their kids instead of encouraging their kids to participate in activities they enjoy. I believe it is more important for a child to have a fun, exciting, imaginative childhood than for that child to be forced into competitive sports as soon as possible. Parents are kind of wacko about their kids, and this can make them less than supportive. Say, for example, that little Johnny has two R alleles and when his parents see this, they push him into football. However, little Johnny really likes singing in his school choir and would like to join an outside of school choir. Many parents would freak out and say "but you would be wasting your natural talent for football!" Then Johnny would be denied a chance to do something he might really enjoy and that's bad.
Also, maybe it would be a better use of scientific resources to use the lab that analyzes the kids' DNA for more important scientific research.
Overall, I feel like this test is frivolous. It doesn't really help anybody and it might even foster bad experiences for some.

Period 7 Valentina said...

This test makes it seem that there is no other hobbies out there other than sports. It seems like a terrible thing to subject children to because who really knows what they will want to do. Also, I bet that taking this test and pushing a child in the sport it says they should be best at would yeld the same results as pushing a kid to do a sport there genes told them theyed be bad at. Obviously, if they were forced to practise they would get pretty good no matter what, but they would also really hate what they were being pushed into doing if it wasn't their disition.
It doesn't seem that this test has been tested on many non-really athletic people. I bet there are some people who absolutly hate sports yet are still RR. Just because someone has the genetic potential to be really good at something doesn't mean it magically comes true.
However, to me this test is really intresting. Now that I have the hobbies that I love it would be interesting and maybe even funny to see what sports I'd be good at. The only real objection I have to this test is the use of it on children who haven't grown up yet and haven't decided what they want to become good at.

period1marina said...

I have to agree that way more factors than this one gene can determine wether one is a good athlete or not- like mentioned in the article, nutrition, evironment, and other factors can lead to being a good athlete. Also, events in your personal life can lead to you having more of a fire in a certain area, or years of practice can lead to being a great athlete even if you are not "born" to do it. I think hard work pays off personally.
Also, just because you're good at something does not nessecarily mean you WANT to be doing it.
You may be the best soccer player around but that does not mean that you enjoy doing it- you may keep doing it out of habit, or because your parents want you to.
also, I think that genetic testing takes the fun out of everything. i think half the excitement of anything is maybe running through a bunch of options that don't work for you, and then finding something that you love. when you do find that "thing" that you love, it's all the more better because you had to search for it. kids deserve to try everything out, and if they're not doing great at soccer, that's ok, they can stop and try something else.
AND finally, similar to a point I made above, just because a person is really amazing at one thing doens't mean that he/she doesn't like something else he/she is not as good at better.
this test is, in my opinion, another way for parents to be creepily involved in exactly the way they want their children (like choosing eye color! that stuff is awful!) what ever happened to the spontanaiety of life? the unexpectedness? that is where the fun of life comes in if you ask me.