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Parents testing children for athletic gene

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Amarillo, Texas - A new trend is popular with parents who's kids are out on the field or court testing their athletic ability without any physical activity. It's nothing more than a simple DNA test. But, it could tell you a lot about your child and their ability to shine when it comes to athletics.

Is your child the next Joe Montana, or the next Michael Jordan? Now, with as little as a swab of the cheek parents are finding out as young as two years-old where their children's talents lie. All with what is being called the athletic gene.

"It's involved in the skeletal muscle and whether or not your muscles can produce a lot of power for sprinting, or explosive power versus whether you might have muscle that are more capable of endurance type activities," Johnnie Faircloth, M.D., TTUHSC Department of Pediatrics and Sports Medicine said.

For around $150 Atlas Sports Genetics can give you those answers. Parents across the country have been taking advantage and jumping on board. But not without some controversy. "That may mean that some children are held out of certain sports just because some test says they may not make it to the Olympic level," Faircloth said.

After studying the genetics of top athletes, countries like Uzbekistan are testing every child to pick their future Olympic athletes. Here in the panhandle where every week in the fall is "Friday night lights," would you test your child to see if they have what it takes?

"There ain't too many parents who know what their kids will be like when they grow up. Bo Jackson did it all, why couldn't another kid? That's pretty exciting," Thomas Williams, a parent of athletes said.

"I'm pretty skeptical about that. I just think that's going in a direction for kiddos that's maybe not necessary. I mean it is certainly a parent's right to do what they think they need to do for their child, but I don't know if any gene testing is going to tell them whether the kid really wants to play a sport," Jimmy Lackey, Kids Inc. President & CEO said.

Lackey has seen kids start their athletic career from a young age. He says there are other routes to figure out what your child would be best at. "Maybe they're a reader. Maybe they've got a nice voice and they want to be in a choir. They've got some band talent and they want to play an instrument. Maybe they've got some athletic ability, and a sport is their niche. But I think you ought to let the kid take the lead in that, and let the kid follow their heart," Lackey said.

Others would say differently about testing children. "I think so just to see where they lie, where their expectations lie. Just the parents, you know, just guide your kid from there. Let them take off and be their backbone. Support them all the way," Williams said.

Could this change the face of sports?

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