The Clutch Gene, Does it Exist?

We take a look at the notion of a clutch gene.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

With the Heat down 96-95 and only 2.3 seconds remaining, LeBron James gets the ball at the top of the key. He takes a couple of dribbles them leaps into the air, launching an off balance three that clangs miserably off the front of the rim. The Heat lose and once again ESPN analyst Skip Bayless is given material for a two day rant about how 'Prince' James lacks the 'clutch gene'.

OK, the above situation is not a recreation of an actual game (though I have seen it done many times) but is something that I'm using to get us into the mindset of what exactly a 'clutch gene' is. The term 'clutch gene' is easily in the top 5 of what sports personalities and annalists use (if you are Skip Bayless, who I am a big fan of, that gets moved up to number one) on an almost daily basis. It's a term that is meant to articulate how an athlete is in the defining moments of a game, usually the end of it.

Those who have this gene step it up and make the shot, or the play, needed to win the game. Two of the biggest stars in recent memory that can be classified as having this gene in a big way is Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. Those two guys almost always has what it takes in the waning moments of games to pull out a win. It's almost like they can smell victory and they just have to pounce on it.

Those who don't have the gene, however, just seem to fall flat in crunch time. They can't make the big play or get the game winning score and it's usually not done in dramatic fashion on sports biggest stages. The biggest example of this is the aforementioned LeBron James. James, despite his huge talent, always seems to shrink down when he's needed it the most. That's been his modus operandi for his entire career and won't be changing anytime soon.

But is he honestly just that bad in pressure situations or is there an actual 'clutch gene' that rises up in players to give them that needed edge when it matters most? If there is a gene that determines end of game greatness and certain individuals don't have it, is it there fault or is it something genetic?

As of right now, medical science has yet to determine the validity of a 'clutch gene'. They just can't locate a particular gene that gives a player bigger balls when it's time to man up. But where medicine fails, the sports community delivers and according to a broad study of sports radio analysts and their tv counterparts, there is such a thing as a 'clutch gene' and it's either something you have or something you don't.

And no amount of wishing or money can change that (Mr. James).

So, when you are browsing the myriad of sports on your free time and you come to a game that is close in the waning seconds, take a look at the team that is behind and see if anyone steps it up to deliver that last second win. The clutch gene is a rare bird to see but when you do, it's always something awesome to behold.


Photo credit – AP