From today's Times:
In health-conscious, sports-oriented Boulder, Atlas Sports Genetics is playing into the obsessions of parents by offering a $149 test that
aims to predict a child’s natural athletic strengths. The process is
simple. Swab inside the child’s cheek and along the gums to collect DNA
and return it to a lab for analysis of ACTN3, one gene among more than
20,000 in the human genome.
The test’s goal is to determine
whether a person would be best at speed and power sports like sprinting
or football, or endurance sports like distance running, or a
combination of the two. A 2003 study discovered the link between ACTN3
and those athletic abilities.
In this era of genetic testing, DNA
is being analyzed to determine predispositions to disease, but experts
raise serious questions about marketing it as a first step in finding a
child’s sports niche, which some parents consider the road to a college
scholarship or a career as a professional athlete.
The more progressive baseball organizations are closely monitoring
these tests, sending baseball scouts to observe the children whose gene
scores suggest they will become elite baseball players. Scouts from
Oakland, Boston and the New York teams were in attendance for four
year-old Jimmy Willard's snack time. One scout was particularly
impressed with the toddler's competitive spirit and make up. "The kid wanted his apple sauce
and he wanted it now!" Another thought he lacked command. "He missed his
mark a number of times. The carrots he threw ended up all over the
Meanwhile, some baseball organizations have begun to use these tests to
evaluate players on their team. "We want to know if these people we're
paying millions are, in fact, baseball players," Theo Epstein explains.
The results are surprising. Here are some highlights:
- Curt Schilling is actually genetically a right-wing talk show host
- Biologically speaking, Derek Jeter is a lover, not a baseball player
- The genes say A-Rod is a boy band member
- Julio Lugo is, in fact, a baseball player
- Mike Timlin should have been a prominent figure in New York City's early underground hip hop movement
- Ted Williams was a true Yankee
- Jeff Weaver is a true Red Sock
- Kevin Youkilis is Chewbacca
- Jonathan Papelbon is a French existentialist.
- Nick Swisher is not Mark Teixeira
Clearly, the times are changing to paraphrase Bob Dylan (genetically he was destined to be the a middle infielder for the New York Yankees, but living and other stuff got in the way), and our favorite teams are using new information to their advantage. It's entirely possible that your team's 2024 line-up has already been set–a comforting thought for all of us armchair general managers and social planners.