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05/19/2011

Will Your Child Be a Baller or a Putter? Good Thing There’s a Genetic Test for That.

As reported in the Washington Post today, at least two new companies are marketing tests that can identify “sports genes” for your child long before they kick their first soccer ball or pick up a racket.

Time to start swabbing their “binkies” for DNA and shooting them off to the lab, right? Wrong.

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The self-described goal of the test? To steer children toward sports that they will excel in and away from those they are unlikely to have the aptitude for. Who care if you child wants to be a ballerina, the genetic tests say she would be a great lacrosse player. And thus she will be. The DNA says so!

I agree with Lainie Friedman Ross, and others, who have said that this trend is very disturbing. Not only is this kind of genetic determinism most likely to be flawed in every way, it is just another way of “helicopter parents” trying to map out their children’s entire lives. I have already written here on this blog about the moral problems of being a helicopter parent, but these DNA tests take helicoptering to an entirely new level. And one we should not go to.

Let our children be children, let them pick their interests, and over time, whether determined by genes or other factors, they will find the activity that is best suited to them. Let’s not straightjacket our children’s lives with a DNA test.

Summer McGee, PhD

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