Monday, January 23, 2006

I should find and patent the sports gene...

There was an article in Wired recently about how drug and dna research companies are finding and patenting genes. To me this is the crescendo of the lengths of stupidity of our patent system - someone is patenting something created by G-d (or, if you are an atheist, something in nature - either way, it is something that they didn't create, yet, somehow they can reserve the rights to it).

In any case, since the study of DNA has become commonplace over the last several years, there have been many interesting findings (for example, the study that tried to establish the 'Cohen' gene).

But the one gene they haven't found yet is the 'Sports Gene' that little gene that somehow all men, regardless of their athletic prowess, seem to have, and a gene that seems to escape most women (oy, am I going to get flamed by the sports-loving women out there).

I don't know what it is - I don't follow too many teams to closely. I love the Mets, I try to watch as many Giants games as my busy fall Sunday schedule allows, and all told, I am more the kind of person who prefers participating in sports rather than watching them. Yet for the 3 minutes of the sports report on the news each night, I am in the zone. My wife can't talk to me, and I just drop everything and focus. Maybe it's genetic? Because at the end of the day, my life won't be any better or worse if the seemingly hapless Knicks beat the Cavs or the Bulls or whatever, yet somehow for those 3 minutes it matters. As bad as I am, I am even worse when it comes to my boys and sports.

My kids are almost 2 and almost 4, and even though they are not quite old enough to participate in many of our local sports programs (most start at 5, and even though my 4-year-old is big for his age, he is not yet at the point where I see him sitting with a coach and taking directions). Yet just yesterday alone, I had three thoughts about them and sports:

  • I saw the $10 t-ball special gloves and thought about buying them so that we can play catch in the backyard.
  • I saw a project book that showed how to make soccer goals out of spare PVC tubing
  • I thought about finally fixing the bike in my garage and getting one for my big guy so that we can go biking together this summer.

My wife often wonders aloud if I would be this sports-crazed if we had girls. And somehow, despite my earlier statements seemingly to the contrary, I say yes. Sports teaches so much more than physical activity and competitiveness, it teaches teamwork and work ethic (i.e. the harder you practice the better you will become) it builds self-motivation and esteem in kids, and gives them a sense of belonging.

Despite nature, I think nurture goes a long way too.

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