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In high school, I wondered whether the Jamaican Americans who made our track team so successful might carry some special speed gene from their tiny island. In college, I ran against Kenyans, and wondered whether endurance genes might have traveled with them from East Africa. At the same time, I began to notice that a training group on my team could consist of five men who run next to one another, stride for stride, day after day, and nonetheless turn out five entirely different runners. How could this be?

We all knew a star athlete in high school. The one who made it look so easy. He was the starting quarterback and shortstop; she was the all-state point guard and high-jumper. Naturals. Or were they?

What People Are Saying About THE SPORTS GENE

“I can’t remember a book that has fascinated, educated—and provoked—me as much as The Sports Gene. Epstein has changed forever the way we measure elite athletes and their achievements.”
MALCOLM GLADWELL, author and New Yorker writer

“In The Sports Gene David Epstein blows up the notion that 10,000 hours is all that is required for dominance in a sport and reveals the true complexity behind excellence.”
—DARYL MOREY, Houston Rockets general manager; cofounder of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

“David Epstein offers the definitive account of what does and does not make an athlete elite. By myth-busting conventional thinking and offering new insights, Epstein has created a must-read for athletes, parents, coaches, and anyone who wants to know what it takes to be great.”

— GEORGE DOHRMANN, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Play Their Hearts Out

“Captivating…The narrative follows Mr. Epstein’s search for the roots of elite sport performance as he encounters characters and stories so engrossing that readers may not realize they’re receiving an advanced course in genetics, physiology and sports medicine.”

“There has been nothing like this: a strong yet accessible review of the science and genetics of sports wrapped in personal stories. It will cause readers of all stripes to question their assumptions about just what it takes to become an elite athlete.”
—STEPHEN M. ROTH, exercise physiologist and director of the Functional Genomics Lab, University of Maryland 

“Truly a groundbreaking work, contemporary sports journalism at its best. After reading Epstein’s superb book—by turns a travelogue, highly readable primer on sports science, and string of who knew? anecdotes—you will never watch sports the same way again.”
— L. JON WERTHEIM, coauthor of Scorecasting 

“Many researchers and writers are reluctant to tackle genetic issues because they fear the quicksand of racial and ethnic stereotyping. To his credit, Epstein does not flinch.”
—THE WASHINGTON POST (*Notable Nonfiction of 2013)

“Step by surprising step, David Epstein takes our hand, grips our mind, and leads us deeper and deeper into the fascinating jungle of sports and genetics . . . until we finally begin to see the miracle we’ve been watching in our stadiums and on our TV screens all our lives.”
—GARY SMITH, Sports Illustrated writer and four-time National Magazine Award winner

“If you have any interest in being at the forefront of change in the sports industry you have to read this book. The Sports Gene goes far beyond cliché and digs into the science that every professional sports team will have to incorporate into their thinking. It is a must read.”
—MARK CUBAN, Dallas Mavericks owner and chairman of AXS TV