Is Your Toddler a Track Star?

As a society, we are constantly evolving, developing and moving forward. Many theories, ideas, technologies and objects that exist today were simply unimaginable, or barely conceivable, only a few decades ago.

For instance, I vaguely remember my grandparents’ telephone party line and listening for their distinctive ring. Now, two short decades later, Manitoba is preparing to introduce a second area code and 10-digit dialing to keep up with the demands of cell phone usage.

It is undeniable that technological and scientific advances over the past few decades have been incredible. But how far are we willing to go?

It used to be that if your child liked hockey you bought them a stick, sent them to the ice and let them discover their talent (or lack of it). With new technology, however, that trial and error period is no longer necessary. Believe it or not, with a DNA test first introduced in 2008, you can now test your crawling infant to determine what type of runner they will become.

Developed by Boulder, Colorado, company Atlas Sports Genetics after a 2003 study discovered the link between the ATN3 gene and athletic abilities, the test establishes whether a person would be best at speed and power sports like sprinting and football, or endurance sports like distance running, or a combination of the two.

For just a swab of your child’s inner cheek, you can be provided information that offers a guideline for placing youngsters in sports, explain Atlas executives.

But what are the limitations; the downfalls; the dangers? Will a child with a poor athletic outlook be discouraged from the expense of sports? Will a child who loves piano or artistry be pushed into track and field because of their intrinsic abilities? Will an overbearing parent mistake natural talent for love of the game?

Nathaniel Carruthers, president of operations at Atlas, explained to FOXBusiness Online that their mission is misunderstood. “The test is one tool in a whole toolbox; we focus on the whole biology, not just making a person bigger and stronger.” He adds that “Atlas puts stock in overall wellness and an educational packet is sent along with test results that reminds parents about the importance of playing sports for fun, proper nutrition and rest.”

In a culture where our professional athletes are rewarded so well for their performance and entertainment value, the choice to administer the DNA test is undeniably controversial and, most likely, extremely tempting. But there is also much to be said about letting hard work, determination and pure love of sports determine who will be great.

As the time approaches for your children to return to school and sign up for extracurricular sports and activities, consider whether or not it would be helpful or detrimental to your child and your family to know what they would excel in. Faced with the choice, would you rather know that your toddler is a track star, or would you remain happy simply knowing that they love to run?

Published in the Virden Empire-Advance. September, 2011.