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As sports become a bigger and bigger business, parents, players, coaches, general managers, and fans endlessly curious about what makes some athletes Hall of Famers and others barely better than average.
In “The Sports Gene,” David Epstein considers athletic greatness and the nature-versus-nurture debate from a biological perspective, collecting an impressive array of scientific studies about athletic performance. The senior writer for Sports Illustrated also introduces a wide range of champions, from a gold-medal-winning Finnish cross-country skier with a rare, advantageous gene mutation to Iditarod-winning sled dogs bred for work ethic and desire. With experts and examples culled from around the world, the book makes a compelling, yet familiar, case that athletic achievement is a combination of nature and nurture, of innate abilities and practice time, of genes and sport-specific experience. By examining how far scientists have come in understanding the impact of genes on athletic performance and what remains undiscovered, Epstein adds another layer to the ongoing debate.