Athlete development and nature vs. nuture

Would you ever want to know if you're susceptible to a metabolic disease? That you have genetic markers that indicate that you are more (or less) at risk to develop a medical condition? That's one of the selling points of 23andMe's genetic testing, which has only recently reappeared on the US market after some trickiness around their claims and the capacity of how people can digest and understand that information.

How about with human performance? Would you want to know if you're genetically wired to perform at a higher level than the general population? Perhaps you can go farther or recover quicker. That's the main drive between Athletigen, which uses 23andMe's test to highlight specific traits tied to human performance with the goal of targeted training and coaching for increased performance.

But how much of this is pseudoscience? How much do any of us actually know about genetic traits and what they really mean? How much can we actually understand? Is there a generation of athletes coming up that will be identified not by testing or observation, but through a cheek swab?

In that spirit, here's an amazing story of how much traits including those tied to human performance present themselves regardless of upbringing: A Tale of Two Sisters by Nancy L. Segal


The power to not play

These past few days have been extremely interesting with two very different situations leading to sport teams standing up and walking out until change occurs.

In Missouri, the football team declared they were not going to practice or play until the president of the university stepped down. The strong stance was in response to racial tension at the school and it worked, with the president soon resigning.

Meanwhile, in a situation that may not have had as important motivation but was no less revelatory, the entire roster of the OHL's Flint Firebirds quit after their coaching staff was fired, forcing team management to back-peddle and re-instate.

Like the VICE article details, these incidents are nearly unprecedented. Perhaps the only surprising fact is that situations like this, with teams taking a united stand against what they feel is not right, are not happening more often, especially in environments like college sports and junior hockey.

That door is now wide open. What happens next?