The Sports Gene David Epstein Analysis

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Many people want to know if we control our destiny, or if our fate is predetermined. The authors David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene, and Malcolm Gladwell, Author of Outliers: The Story of Success, have different positions on the subject. The excerpt from The Sports Gene is about the athlete Donald Thomas who was gifted with genes that allow him to do well in high-jump. The excerpt from Outliers: The Story of Success is about research done to determine what difference practice makes in people's success. In response to the question, how much of what happens in our lives do we control, Gladwell does a better job supporting his position that people create their own destiny that Epstein supports his position that people don't control their…show more content…
Epstein writes, "Ishikawa noted both Thomas's long legs relative to his height and also that he was gifted with a giant's Achilles tendon. Whereas Holm's Achilles was more normal-sized" (Epstein 7). This quote states that Thomas's large Achilles tendon, along with his long legs allowed him to beat Holm, an Olympic champion high-jumper. Although Holm has more experience Epstein claims that the difference in Achilles tendon length along with leg length is what allowed the highly inexperienced Thomas to win. Epstein then states, "And while it appears that an individual can increase tendon stiffness by training, there is also evidence that stiffness is partly influenced by an individual's versions of genes involved in making collagen, a protein in the body that builds ligaments and tendons"(Epstein 8). The Achilles tendon's stiffness is also part of what allows people to jump high and Epstein writes that it can be increased by training or genes. Another thing Epstein writes is, "Interestingly, Thomas has not improved one centimeter in the six years since he entered the professional circuit. Thomas debuted on the top and has not progressed"(Epstein 8). Although Thomas's genes allowed him to start off strong, without practice he has not improved. Since Epstein only writes about two people's genes and how it…show more content…
Gladwell writes about a study done in the 1990s by psychologist K. Anders Ericsson that separates an elite music school's violinists into three groups, the stars the good ones, and the ones likely to be music teachers, Gladwell also compared professional and amateur pianists (Gladwell 11-12). In both of these groups the violin stars and the piano pros had put in 10,000 hours of practice to get to their level. The ones who were only good, likely to be music teachers, or amateurs had put in substantially less than 10,000 hours of practice. If you don't put in the work you won't become a master at your craft. Gladwell later writes, "The striking thing about Ericsson's study is that he and his colleagues couldn't find any "naturals," musicians who floated effortlessly to the top while practicing a fraction of the time their peers did. Nor could they find any "grinds," people who worked harder than everyone else, yet just didn't have what it takes to break the top ranks" (Gladwell 12). This states that anyone who puts in the time can become a master if they want. Gladwell quotes psychologist Michael Howe's book Genius Explained, "by the standards of mature composers, Mozart's early works are not outstanding" (Gladwell 12). Even Mozart was not born a master composer and it took him just as much time as anyone else to become great. Gladwell uses lots of evidence to support his claim

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