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The Ravens are Giving Away Free DNA Test Kits to Fans this Weekend

What could go wrong?!

by Sean Newell
Sep 14 2017, 7:44pm

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

I've been staring at a blank screen thinking what to write about this for going on 15 minutes now. It's not that it's a confusing subject; it's actually quite straightforward. The Baltimore Ravens, a franchise in the National Football League, are providing fans that enter the stadium for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns with a free DNA test kit. The who, what, when, and where, are all pretty much taken care of. What it comes down to is, the why?

Like, seriously, why?

Obviously teams do giveaways to get fans in the seats, create a weird fake market of bobbleheads plastered with Verizon's logo on them, or whatever, but at least those are related to the team. Oh, what's that? I'm being told that the DNA test kit will have the Ravens logo on it; so now you can display it in your den with the rest of your sports memorabilia, after finding out what genetic deficiency will ultimately be your downfall. That's good.

But if I can be serious here for a minute—and free DNA test kits with debatable utility are no laughing matter—who does this appeal to? Of the tens of thousands of fans who receive their cotton swabs in a box, how many do you suppose will walk out of the stadium with at the end of the game thinking "I can't wait to go on a journey of self-discovery!"?

For those who decide, sure, I'll voluntarily send my DNA to a company that slapped it's name on a box and had an NFL team distribute it for free to a bunch of boozed up sports fans (promise me you will not ever do this), let's look at what you'll be getting with your free test of four genes:

These include the ACTN3 gene, which the firm says can yield information on whether a person "is likely to have enhanced performance in power and sprint activities or is considered normal."

Also being tested is a gene the company says can help predict an increased risk of low levels of Vitamin D. From the test, fans can learn if they are "generally predisposed" to have difficulty metabolizing Vitamin D well...

So, basically, Big Milk is trying to scam its way into some consumer data here and is it really any wonder that it's the Ravens who are doing it? The head coach, you might not be aware, is John Harbaugh. You might also not be aware that he comes from a football family, including his father Jack, and, importantly, a younger brother Jim who is the head coach at the University of Michigan.

For your consideration, I present to you Exhibits "A" through "C."

(Please take note of Jim's beverage.)

Now, I ask you, what makes more sense: that the Ravens were like yeah, sure, DNA test kits for fans, that'll get them to come see the Browns! OR, that the Harbaughs are in deep to Big Milk and need to make good so now they've cooked up a wide-reaching scheme to target new potential customers and revenue streams?