Oh, Brother

Lisa, a recreation director, was running a summer swim team at a community pool in Greensboro, N.C. One boy, age 11, was the star swimmer in the 11-12 age group. His brother, age 6, swam in the eight and under group, meaning he was competing against some boys two years older.

On Saturdays, teams would hold open meets where everyone could swim. They would run enough heats so that everyone would receive a ribbon, even the swimmer with the slowest time. The 6-year-old would swim in these meets.

On Sundays, they would hold the more competitive meets, where only the top swimmers would compete.

On the last weekend of the summer, the team was preparing to face its cross-town rival. That Friday, the father of the brothers approached Lisa. He told her that she must let his six-year-old swim in the Sunday meet, or he would hold his 11-year-old out of the competition. When Lisa balked, the father yelled at her in front of all the parents. Afterward, three mothers came up to apologize for the father.

The father stuck to his guns. The 11-year-old did not compete. He spent most of the meet in the locker room, crying.