May 7, 2020 9:49 pm

Friday, Neil deGrasse Tyson Answers Your Questions on Sports and Genetics

What does the future of sport look like? Well, in our current coronavirus situation, we’re not sure. But what does it look like down the line? What will athletes be doing to gain an advantage in their respective sports? Will they be allowed to use steroids? Better yet, will they be allowed to alter their genome?

Lebron James playing for the USA Basketball Team. Christopher Johnson / CC BY-SA (

Lebron James. Image Credit: Christopher Johnson / CC BY-SA (

On this episode of StarTalk Sports Edition, Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice are answering your Cosmic Queries on sports genetics alongside Stuart Kim, PhD, geneticist and Founder and CEO of AxGen. AxGen is “transforming the sports world by leveraging actionable genetic insights to personalize strength training, so as to reduce injury and empower athletes to achieve their peak potential.”

We start with the question on everyone’s mind: would genetically-modified humans be allowed to compete in sports? Stuart explains why the answers should be a resounding no. Find out why genetically modifying humans is like taking steroids without having to actually take anything. Our crew ponders which animal genes they would want to infuse with their own to give them an advantage on the field.

We investigate the ethics behind what’s allowed and what isn’t allowed. Who draws the line for what an athlete can do to their body? Neil asks why weight-lifting is allowed but manipulating genes isn’t. We discuss the possibility of having two different leagues for each sport: an “honest” league and a “cheaters” league.

Find out more about the power of collective bargaining agreements in all of pro sports – and how they relate to genetics, including why these agreements would stop owners and teams from knowing gene information about their athletes. Lastly, we explore the use of genetic testing to predict the susceptibility for concussions. All that, plus, we debate if the limits of human performance will ever hit a peak.

You can find Cosmic Queries – Sports Genetics right here on our website, as well as on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re a StarTalk+ Patron or an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
– Ian Mullen

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