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Want to find out which sport your child may be best at in the future? According to this New York Times article, if you visit Atlas Sports Genetics in Boulder, Colo., you can. For a fee of $149, the lab collects DNA from your child via a cheek swab and then analyzes the gene ACTN3, which is linked to athletic speed, strength and endurance. The results theoretically show which of the three your child is most genetically predisposed toward, helping you decide which sport to sign him or her up for. (The test is only available for children ages 8 and younger.)
Among the many questions the test raises—it’s highly controversial among experts—I’m also left wondering about this one: Should children be niched into one sport as early as possible?
In my childhood, I tried on sports like shoes, going from ballet, soccer and roller skating to swimming, skiing, track and crew. I’m sure my inability to pick just one sport drove my parents crazy, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to sample a variety before settling into my favorites. Each new experience taught me something—about failure, discipline, team work, coordination, balance, victory or hard work—and helped me develop into who I am now.
On the other hand, I have many friends who competed in one sport from age 8 to 18, and they don’t have any regrets. And I have to wonder, if I could have been tested to discover what sport I was best at when I was 2 and then trained in that sport instead of dabbling in so many, could I have become an Olympian?
What do you think?