Why Play Games? Technology Can Choose Your Child's Sport

Just what the pushy parents at the local Little League fields and hockey rinks needed — a reason to specialize and push their child harder at a young age.

Thanks to modern technology, no need to play soccer, baseball, basketball, maybe run a little track and see what you enjoy and want to do. A new genetics test from the fine folks at Atlas Sports Genetics in Colorado can help you choose a sport that’s best for your kindergartner. The New York Times went and talked to the people working hard to suck the fun out of childhood.

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.

Parents, if you didn’t find that disturbing enough, Kevin Reilly, the president of Atlas Sports Genetics, can take it to the next level of creepy for you:

Based on the test of a 5-year-old or a newborn, you are not going to see if you have the next Michael Johnson; that’s just not going to happen,” Mr. Reilly said. “But if you wait until high school or college to find out if you have a good athlete on your hands, by then it will be too late. We need to identify these kids from 1 and up, so we can give the parents some guidelines on where to go from there.

Of course, as with all science, there are dissenting opinions trying to spoil the fun. Carl Foster, director of the human performance laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, is one of those suggesting there might be better ways to do this.

Dr. Foster suggested another way to determine if a child will be good at sprint and power sports. “Just line them up with their classmates for a race and see which ones are the fastest,” he said.

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