I’m just minding my business watching the biggest sporting event of the day—Peñarol vs. Defensor in the Uruguayan Primera Division, of course—and on comes this ad for a Miami-based company that promises to improve your child’s soccer abilities through DNA sequencing of his or her genome.
We’ve been through this sort of thing before. Indeed, one EPL squad did DNA tests on all its players to determine which players were most injury-prone. And though normally we’re loath to write about ads, in this instance the spot is so absurd and frightening that most people thought it was a parody from our siblings over at The Onion. But, yes, this company exists—and claims to have scientific backing from a UC Davis scientist.
Again, this is not exactly new. That doesn’t make it any more frightening! While the ad suggests DNA testing will magically enable your child to score sick golazos, the more realistic outcome is that a whole lot of kids who could have grown up enjoying sports will be turned away from them by a genetic report that reveals that they, like the overwhelming majority of humans on this planet, don’t possess superhuman genetic mutations that permit elite athletic success.
Update (11:13 p.m.): The British Journal of Sports Medicine states:
There is concern over the lack of clarity of information over which specific genes or variants are being tested and the almost universal lack of appropriate genetic counselling for the interpretation of the genetic data to consumers. Furthermore independent studies have identified issues relating to quality control by DTC laboratories with different results being reported from samples from the same individual. Consequently, in the current state of knowledge, no child or young athlete should be exposed to DTC genetic testing to define or alter training or for talent identification aimed at selecting gifted children or adolescents.
Update (07/09/2017, 11:38 p.m.): Actual experts chime in...