What Label Do You Wear?

Sometimes people label others.

These labels can sometimes be good but can sometimes be untrue or unfair. The theme of my book Travel Team is when people are defined they have to decide whether they submit to that definition or try to break free of it. Travel Team has several characters who demonstrate this. First, Danny is defined as being too short to play basketball well. He doesn’t make the travel team because his coaches think that he is too short. He then makes his own team with his Dad as the coach.

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Danny chooses to defy this view that he is too short to play basketball and breaks free of the impression. I can connect this to my own life in that once I had a situation like that. I was doing curl-ups in gym when I heard someone say “there is no way he will get all 60 curl-ups on the test.” When I heard that I felt motivated to try as hard as I could to get there. I did it and proved the other person wrong.

I could have chosen to just go along with what the person said and reinforced their definition of me but I chose to try and show them that they were wrong. Then, Danny and his undersized team are labeled as being a team of rejects. The kids on the Vikings, Danny’s former team, think Danny is coddled because his Dad coaches his new team. At one point, one of the players from his former team sarcastically refers to “Danny and the rest of his squirts” (page 264) and “just flies to be brushed off” (page 64). However, Danny and his team, the Warriors, fight back and prove to the Vikings who they really are when they beat the Vikings in the playoffs. Last, Danny’s friend, Ty, is a Vikings starter and the coach’s son.

Ty was defined as a Vikings player from the start. However, after he breaks his wrist in a basketball accident involving Danny, he decides to play for Danny’s new team. Ty wasn’t having fun on the Vikings and thought that his Dad was over-coaching the team. In Travel Team, Danny, his team, and Ty break free of the expectations of others, and show that when someone is labeled by others they must choose whether to submit to that definition or try and break free of it. They all rejected labels they disagreed with and chose to make their own.