Bend it like Beckham! The ethics of genetically testing children for athletic potential

  • Camporesi S
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Abstract

The recent boom of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests, aimed at measuring childrens athletic potential, is the latest wave in the pre-professionalization of children that has characterized, especially but not exclusively, the USA in the last 15 years or so. In this paper, I analyse the use of DTC genetic tests, sometimes coupled with more traditional methods of talent scouting, to assess a childs predisposition to athletic performance. I first discuss the scientific evidence at the basis of these tests, and the parental decision in terms of education, and of investing in the childrens future, taken on the basis of the results of the tests. I then discuss how these parental practices impact on the childrens right to an open future, and on their developing sense of autonomy. I also consider the meaning and role of sports in childhood, and conclude that the use of DTC genetic tests to measure childrens athletic potential should be seen as a wake up call for other problematic parental attitudes aimed at scouting and developing childrens talent. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Author-supplied keywords

  • DTC genetic tests
  • autonomy
  • children
  • open future
  • practice
  • pre-professionalization
  • sports
  • talent

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Authors

  • Silvia Camporesi

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