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Braddock

Athletic genes??

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Ive had many a debate with friends about athletic abilty being inherited and not learned, or gained through practice. Is there a gene, or group of genes that can be passed on by parents that will make a child be more predesposed to have raw athletic ability? My friend argued that had I grown up with him and participated in the same sports activities that he did, That I would be just as athletic as he. I argued NO, I wouldnt be. Yes I would be more athletic than I am now, But not near the atlete he was and is. I say that some folks have more of a tendancy to exibit athletic prowess than others, Due to inherited genes. Only with athletic activity does one hone those skills to their potential. But before honing those abilities, One must have the ability to begin with.

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Of course theres a genetic disposition. People inherit their physical characteristics just like anything else.

 

For instance, I have had the wonderful oppurtunity of inheriting the "shortness" gene from my mother. As you may have guessed, I'm not that great of a basketball player. I could practice side-by-side with Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O'neal, but I'll never be as good. In a simpler sense, think of a high school sports team. Generally speaking the team goes through the same workouts. Yet you'll find some players are better than others.

 

My friends father was short and quite stocky, he inherited this phenotype as well, thus, he'll be a better powerlifter than I will since shorter limbs are conducive to the sport. In short, physical characteristics which make someone good at sports can be inherited like anything else.

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Interesting sidenote: Ever notice how Kenyans always do so well at track and field events in the olympics? Turns out that many people from that area have a somehow altered metabolism that makes them up to 10% more efficient than normal. The study was controlled for environmental effects, too. Nobody knows *why*, but the effect is real.

 

Mokele

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Ive had many a debate with friends about athletic abilty being inherited and not learned, or gained through practice. Is there a gene, or group of genes that can be passed on by parents that will make a child be more predesposed to have raw athletic ability? My friend argued that had I grown up with him and participated in the same sports activities that he did, That I would be just as athletic as he. I argued NO, I wouldnt be. Yes I would be more athletic than I am now, But not near the atlete he was and is. I say that some folks have more of a tendancy to exibit athletic prowess than others, Due to inherited genes. Only with athletic activity does one hone those skills to their potential. But before honing those abilities, One must have the ability to begin with.

Your take on this seems excellent, and your friend is not correct at all.

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There are definite genetic differences in athletic ability. Among other things they can be due not just to height, but more specifically extremity length. The ratio of "fast twitch" to "slow twitch" muscles also plays a part.

 

I posted to a similar question on another thread - the relavent parts of my post are copied below.

 

 

 

... The insertion point of the tendon may vary however, the closer the insertion point is to the end of the bone, the better leverage one would have.

 

I read an article in Discover Magazine a few years ago that stated that blacks generally had a higher percentage of "fast twitch" muscles, which enables them to sprint faster and jump higher. Unfortunately, I don't have the magazine anymore, so I can't give you the month and year it was published.

 

Here is a link about "fast-twitch" vs "slow twitch" muscles. It doesn't discuss the difference in races, just the difference in the muscle types.

http://orthopedics.about.com/cs/generalinfo6/a/muscle.htm

 

 

But, I think the biggest difference is that in general, blacks have proportionately longer extremities than whites.

 

The following quote was pulled from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The article is titled "Measures of body composition in blacks and whites: a comparative review".

 

There are racial differences in body proportions. Blacks have a greater tendency toward mesomorphy and, on average, have shorter trunks and longer extremities than whites (44, 45, 53). The cadaver analyses of Merz et al (19) and Seale (20) verified that the bones of the extremities are relatively longer in blacks than in whites. Ortiz et al (11) reported significantly longer bone lengths (by 2 cm) in the upper (P < 0.05) and lower (P < 0.01) extremities in black females than in white females. Trotter and Hixon (21) showed that differences in extremity lengths exist even in fetal skeletons. Hampton et al (32) noted that black youths have smaller biiliac and bitrochanteric widths relative to stature than do white youths.

 

 

I remember first noticing this in gym class in high school. There was an extremely tall black girl in our class. One day we were on our backs on the mat getting ready to do situps, and she was beside me. Her head was even with mine, her hips were even with mine, her thighs were several inches longer than mine, and her lower legs were longer too.

 

Since then, when I have watched the runners on sporting events, I have noticed that this is typical, but perhaps not in such an extreme.

 

In any event, longer legs give one a longer stride, and fast twitch muscles enable them to move the leg faster. Therefore, it follows someone who has both, can run faster and jump higher. (Remember the movie "White Men Can't Jump"?)

 

However, according to the articles this is only true for the short distance runners. People with slow twitch muscles are better for endurance sports like marathons.

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Yes, there is a genetic reason for athletic ability. Look at autistic people for example. These people are genetically predisposed to non-athletic ability (bad motor skills). Why can't this be reversed to state the opposite?

 

Genes determine whether a person will be athletic just as they determine their physical traits, musical talent, personality, intelligence, etc.

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