Can You Believe What They Are Doing Now?

I think I’m becoming more of an anti-youth sports zealot every day. Take a minute and read this before you continue.

For those who care not to read:
“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.
Atlas executives acknowledge that their test has limitations but say that it could provide guidelines for placing youngsters in sports. The company is focused on testing children from infancy to about 8 years old because physical tests to gauge future sports performance at that age are, at best, unreliable.”

Here is my first question:

If you find out your child is more geared to endurance activities, what do you do? Almost all youth sports are “sprint type” sports. Even if the test gave some valid info, the info is nearly useless. Would you begin your slow-twitch 6 year old on a program of distance work? Great idea. The child would develop like the Slowsky’s, the turtles in the commercial. Maybe we can have Kiddie Cross Country. What fun! The beautiful combination of developmentally short attention spans and long activity. I just can’t wait. We would then have conditions like “infant plantar fascitis”. How about “pre-pubescent patella femoral syndrome”.

Special thanks to Dr’s Stephen Roth and Dr. Theodore Freidmann for having the “you know what’s” to call a spade a spade in the article. Dr. Friedmann called it “an opportunity to sell new versions of snake oil.”

Kevin Reilly, the president of Atlas Sports Genetics gives the wonderful advice that you should “hold off on placing a child in a competitive environment until about the age of 8 to avoid burnout”. These guys really have a great concept. I guess the flip side would be to find a “highly competitive” program at 6.

The truth is we are losing the youth sports battle. Not only are welosing, we are getting our you-know-whats-kicked. Lets here it for the IYCA and Brian Grasso. Hope fully Brian and his partners will use IYCA for what it was intended and not make it a fundraiser like so many other certification programs have become.

If you haven’t read the Early Specialization post, check it out below

2 Responses to “Can You Believe What They Are Doing Now?”

  1. Thanks for the blog Mike. What a load of crap. It is my feeling to go with a sport that the kids actually enjoy and not what they are “built for” or “genetically linked” too. And whatever happened to playing multiple sports? I see time an time again 8-13 year old kids that are all jacked up and coming to physical therapy because (in my eyes) they are playing only one sport year around and not becoming a well rounded athlete like we did when we were younger. Parents, let your kids have fun, let them play multiple sports! It will pay off in the long run.

  2. Although this story is interesting I agree with you Mike. I was never the best athlete, especially in anaerobic sports, but I LOVED to play basketball (It can be debated if it is more aerobic then anaerobic). It was my life for all of high school. What would I’ve done if a doctor told me I would never be good at it? I don’t know, but I know I would have never won the battle my weight (205lbs Freshman year of High school) without the drive to be better at basketball.

    Just let the kids play, they will find the sport they are best at or enjoy the most. The only reason I see to do this is to exploit kids and force them into a sport they may not want to play.

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