GENETIC TESTS REPLACED BOBBLEHEAD DOLLS AS THE GIVEAWAY at yesterday’s Baltimore Ravens home game against the Cleveland Browns. That’s a first in the world of professional sports!
Tens of thousands of football fans received a fee DNA test kit as they entered the stadium on Sunday. The event was sponsored by Orig3n, a genetic testing company based in Boston. Orig3n is offering a free test of four genes.
News reports said that one gene being tested is described by the company as helping to “predict an increased risk of low levels of Vitamin D.” ACTN3 was the only other gene included in the test that was identified. It was described as “yielding information on whether a person ‘is likely to have enhanced performance in power and sprint activities or is considered normal.’”
During the game, fans can use the collection kit to swab the inside of their cheeks. The samples can be left at collection bins inside the stadium and the consumer will then register online with Orig3n to obtain the results.
Critics were quick to point out the many problems that could result from such a free genetic testing effort. “There’s nothing in this that I think is a good idea,” stated Toni Pollin, MS, PhD, an associate professor at University of Maryland School of Medicine, in an interview with the Baltimore Sun. “The tests they are talking about are not going to be useful for a particular individual.”
On the other hand, this could be a marketing coup for Orig3n, founded in 2014. Where the Ravens play, the M&T Bank Stadium, seats about 71,000 fans. In one afternoon, the gene testing company reaches tens of thousands of people with a free sample of its genetic test. It also benefits from the many news stories about this unique free genetic testing program.
What is most significant about this free genetic testing program at a professional football game is how it confirms that genetic testing is becoming almost commonplace. If a professional football team can allow free genetic tests for fans, what unorthodox setting will gene testing companies use next to get their tests out to the public?
I wonder if an analysis of one’s genes would demonstrate the potential for enhanced performance in power and sprint activities? In my school days, my football and rugby coaches figured that out on their own, without the benefit of a genetic test. And their findings were reliable, reproducible, and accurate!