Robert K. Graham, the man who gave us the shatterproof eyeglass lens and then the superbrain sperm bank, which apparently has just produced its first offspring, now has decided to expand his genetic supermarket to include a (presumably) separate sperm bank featuring donations from top athletes.
The announcement two years ago that Dr. Graham was going to set up a sperm bank that would offer the sperm of top scientists, including some Nobel laureates, set off a storm of controversy about the ethics of human artificial insemination, elitism, super-races and so forth. Since the potential mothers were to be carefully screened for high intelligence, it was clear from the outset that this was strictly a Mensa-set caper of no concern to the common masses. Who among the rest of us needs some brainy 6-year-old running around the house asking esoteric math questions when we have quite enough on our minds trying to balance a checkbook?
But this time, I submit, Dr. Graham has hit upon something useful. The idea of a sperm bank where we can select superjocks to father the future of America has no end of potential, particularly if you live in the suburbs where an athletic child does more for your status than having a husband in the Cabinet. Think of the possibilities:
By opting for insemination from a star athlete you can almost guarantee that your child will not be just a brain. All your worries about having a short, ugly child who wears glasses, gets 99 on his tests and has a terminal case of unpopularity can be put aside. You have dramatically increased your chances of producing a jock whose mind may be a mother's nightmare, but whose body will be a coach's dream. One assumes, based on Dr. Graham's past successes, that this sperm bank will be refined enough that you will be able to pick out the kind of athlete you want.
For example, if you can't stand Monday night football, the last thing you want to do is to purchase insemination from some NFL superstar. This would doubtless sentence you to spending your offspring's childhood and adolescence at his football games and at the orthopedic surgeon and, besides, if your child ends up being a girl who plays football you might also wind up spending a fortune at the child's psychiatrist.
If baseball is your sport, presumably you can go to the sperm bank, ask for the appropriate donor and do wonders for your odds of producing an excellent baseball player who will be a free agent 30 years from the date of insemination and be able to support you in the fashion to which you long to become accustomed. This is not, I might add, a future you can count on if you opt to give birth to a brain who will in all probability spend the rest of his life in an obscure teaching position, earning $20,000 a year, never to be heard from again.
For those of us who enjoy soccer, and who have had to endure endless Saturdays of watching our 6-year-olds establish for all of the suburban soccer set to see that Johan Cruyff they are not, Dr. Graham's plan offers the possibility of getting some competent soccer sperm so we can be spared this ordeal.
It is well known, of course, that most American fathers never played soccer, which accounts for the ineptness of most of their offspring. The result is that mothers and fathers alike end up tearing out their hair on Saturdays at parks all around the Beltway because their kids 1) don't follow the ball; 2) watch with glazed eyes and parted legs while the ball rolls gently into the goal, or 3) step innocently aside and allow some midget on the other team to barrel down the center of the field and score yet another goal. The sperm bank could do wonders for our soccer stress.
Parents who want championship tennis players could, presumably, go to to the sperm repository for the father of their choice, but when it comes to tennis players they probably ought to be careful. Some players such as Arthur Ashe and Bjorn Borg were probably terrific to have around the house while they were growing up, and if they chose to participate in this grand experiment they could surely be counted on to help produce the kinds of children who would be the apple of a parent's eye.
Dr. Graham says he hopes his experiment will "produce some more very useful citizens," and for the sake of all the mothers who get involved, I certainly hope he's right. And I also hope for the mothers' sakes that the vials are carefully labeled. What if you asked for Borg and ended up with McEnroe?
Kids, no matter how you get them, aren't easy to return.