The Sports Gene

The Sports Gene

Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance

eBook - 2013
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The New York Times bestseller – with a new afterword about early specialization in youth sportsby the author of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.
The debate is as old as physical competition. Are stars like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams genetic freaks put on Earth to dominate their respective sports? Or are they simply normal people who overcame their biological limits through sheer force of will and obsessive training?
In this controversial and engaging exploration of athletic success and the so-called 10,000-hour rule, David Epstein tackles the great nature vs. nurture debate and traces how far science has come in solving it. Through on-the-ground reporting from below the equator and above the Arctic Circle, revealing conversations with leading scientists and Olympic champions, and interviews with athletes who have rare genetic mutations or physical traits, Epstein forces us to rethink the very nature of athleticism.
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group


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ksoles Sep 26, 2013

Why, out of the 81 men who have run 100 meters in less than ten seconds, are 80 of them black? Why has a sub-Saharan African never won an Olympic weight lifting medal? And, more abstractly, what makes a great athlete?

In "The Sports Gene," Sports Illustrated senior writer Epstein begins with Malcolm Gladwell’s premise from "Outliers" (2008): success owes less to inherited ability and more to intense practice (the famous 10,000 hours) and circumstance. In lucid and accessible prose, he proceeds to apply Gladwell’s approach to athletic prowess, citing an array of scientific studies and entertaining anecdotes.

Epstein definitively concludes that "nature" contribute more to great performance than does "nurture." High jumpers benefit if born with a longer, stiffer Achilles tendon. Africans have longer legs and slimmer hips, allowing them to run faster. Caucasians are stockier, with thicker, stronger upper bodies. Of course, hours of dedicated practice help but even the will to train obsessively stems from inherited character traits.

The book provides a sometimes-overwhelming barrage of studies proving that hundreds of sports genes exist though researchers still don't understand their interactions. But ultimately, "The Sports Gene" intrigues and engages with its exploration of great athletic achievements.


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Feb 04, 2015

The Sports Gene
The Sports Gene by David Epstein is nothing but a master piece of thousands of hours’ worth of research. David Epstein is a senior writer for sports illustrated and a former college runner who tries to come to grips with what is truly, the Sports Gene. Epstein theorizes that “nature as well as nurture” are important ingredients for athletic achievement. Personally, I would give this text a good 7 out of 10. It’s definitely an above average read but after reading the text I realized the extreme diction within the text that might not translate well into younger people. This text is probably catered towards a more matured audience with a more mature vocabulary. Without the understanding of some of the diction used in the novel, it’s hard to grasp the books’ complete contents.
Epstein spends a lengthy portion of the novel explaining something that is normally impossible to explain in words. This unexplainable theory being the “sports gene”. David Epstein goes into detail on where the ‘sports gene’ comes from, how to obtain it, and how it enhances professional athlete’s ability to excel. Epstein combines storytelling and facts to not only bring his point across but also excite readers. What Epstein also does a great job of grasp the common knowledge and opinions of readers and explain them in a more thorough fashion. That’s why, even with the diction barrier the book provides, I still consider it a pretty good read for anyone with a decent knowledge of sports or even someone without a decent knowledge of sports. The opportunity to learn and be entertained is what this book brings to the table.

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