Having the Sports Gene

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

David Epstein, senior writer at Sports Illustrated and author of the new book, The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, discusses the science behind the idea that athleticism is in your genes.

EVENT: David Epstein reads from and discusses his book at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan on Thursday, August 8 at an event hosted by Gelf Magazine

Comments [6]

tom LI

Both - nature and nurture. But the nature is not going to work at the exact time someone wants it for a child being pushed by a overeager parent to play better. The sports gene is not existing in isolation in the body, its all wrapped up in the rest of the body - and especially the mind! So the kid with potential, exhibits real potential - but has a lousy attitude, or relations with pushy-parents - wont be "sparked" at that age. Maybe never. They may never truly tap into their potential.

While the not so sports-minded kid from a similar family wont find their "skill" till maybe college, etc...where they are exposed to a new way of thinking about themselves, etc.

But the same holds for intellect, and artistry - some kids spark early and flame-out early too - while the rest of the population takes some time to catch fire, and hopefully not flame-out too soon...but burn slow and hot for a longer time.

Nature and nurture exist in the same world at the same time. My nature might have made me for something I never even thought to pursue - instead of the typical 5 sports most people are exposed to as children. I think, I was made to free-climb, but came to it too late in life and suffered a few non-related injuries that drove me away.

Same holds for our career choices. Most of us simply didnt see more'n the few alternatives right in front of our faces as viable professions to pursue. What is our nature when it comes to these pursuits? Are all lawyers really built to be lawyers? All accountants? Construction workers?

There's a bigger picture here, but of course Sports gets the real attention and research...because its sports!

Aug. 07 2013 11:47 AM
Sacha from Montreal

I would argue that there is a genetic component. I look to my own son, who has naturally excelled at any sport he has undertaken since childhood - swimming, baseball, basketball, cycling, lacrosse, running, etc. It is only recently, in early adulthood, that he has acquired some discipline in training and focus. His efforts have paid off; he was recently clocked by local police officers bicycling at 50 km/h.

Aug. 07 2013 11:44 AM
Ed from Larchmont

If you accept Darwin's theory, blind evolution, you pretty much have to accept his 'The Descent of Man', that people who developed in different areas are of different ability and different value.

People from different areas have different abilities, but the religious view is that all human beings are equal value, though not equal in skills.

Aug. 07 2013 11:38 AM
john from office

Just in everyday observations, you see that people differ in activities. Some people can dance, some can sing, play music and others are great at math.

Most very successful American Jews can be traced to a specific area of Poland. It is a factor of genes and upbringing.

Aug. 07 2013 11:38 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

antonio from bayside: Athletes train in Colorado because the atmosphere is thinner at heights and they get their lungs and red cell production up when they train there. But there's more than one variable in sports and athletics, so environment is not the be-all end-all.

Aug. 07 2013 11:34 AM
antonio from baySide

Isn't it environment? Why else would athletes train in Colorado?

Aug. 07 2013 11:15 AM

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