Talent: A contestable, but not contested, concept?

Response to commentaries

  • Joseph Baker Lifespan Health and Performance Laboratory, York University
  • Nick Wattie Faculty of Health Sciences, Ontario Tech University
Keywords: talent, sport, nature nurture debate, expertise, athlete development


Our target article on ‘Innate talent’ had two objectives, first to acknowledge the 20th anniversary of the seminal contribution by Howe, Davidson and Sloboda (1998) and second, to update this information as it relates to talent in the domain of sport. Many thanks to all the authors that took the time to provide commentaries on our review. Broadly, our target paper focused on 1) whether the concept of innate talent was reasonable and scientifically sound and 2) whether the concept of innate talent had any utility to those working at the coalface of sport science (e.g., coaches, scouts, etc.). All of the commentaries were complimentary to our review, which suggested continued interest in this area (although this was noted as surprising by Hambrick and Burgoyne). We have tried to respond to all of the interesting points raised by the commentaries, but this was not always possible. That said, we grouped our responses under general themes below. Our impression, based on the commentaries, is that innate talent is not a contested concept; in that there appears to be agreement (for the most part) that, ‘this thing exists’. Rather, the concept of innate talent is contestable (Gallie, 1956); that is, there is debate about exactly what it is, the degree of its influence, and how useful the concept of innate talent is.

How to Cite
Baker, J., & Wattie, N. (2021). Talent: A contestable, but not contested, concept? Response to commentaries. Current Issues in Sport Science (CISS), 4, 108. https://doi.org/10.36950/CISS_2019.108
Target Articles Commentaries and Response