Nature vs. Nurture

Essay by blazinj123College, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

download word file, 6 pages 3.8

Natural Athletes?

"Human beings inherit tendencies to survive, to eat,

to think, to speak, and so on" - Matt Ridley (33).

        Michael Jordan. Barry Sanders. Mark Spitz. Recognize these names? The answer is probably yes since these were some of the best athletes ever to play in their respected sports. Michael Jordan is undoubtedly the best basketball player of all time and led the Chicago Bulls to six world titles. The same could be argued about football and Barry Sanders. Sanders is the third leading rusher of all time in the National Football League (NFL) and holds many other rushing titles. Mark Spitz won seven gold medals in swimming during the 1972 Summer Olympics, and set seven world records at the same time. These three men are the epitome of great athletes and it is easy to wonder how these men came to be so successful in their respective sports.

Some may argue that the amount of training and hard work they put in made them some of the greatest athletes ever. Others contend that their genetic makeup is responsible for their ability. The old argument of nature vs. nurture is prevalent in this situation because athletics are clearly a mixture of both components. The feats these men accomplished were only possible because of a combination of their training and natural genetic makeup. However, while both nature and nurture are an important aspect of athletics, natural ability is more responsible for a great athlete than anything else is.


Matt Ridley feels that genetics play a large role in the lives we live, and he "vigorously challenge(s) the assumption that anything universally human is untainted by genes" (35). It is apparent that there can be no great athletes based solely upon the environment in which they live. A non-gifted athlete...