Our recent post on Joel Northrup, the high school wrestler who bowed out of the state tournament when he was paired with a girl, has whipped up a heavy debate in the comments section.
With 47 pages of comments (and growing), there are debates from many directions and points of view.
Editors note: Some comment were edited for grammatical and spelling content, as well as length
Many of the comments show support for Northrup in his decision:
Give the kid a break. He's got morals and an ethic that he is willing to stand up for. We need more men and women like this. All these other dead fish floating down the river just 'going with the flow' is part of the problem in this country.
Well good for him for standing for what he believes in and not complaining about the consequences. Bravo, In the second round I hope he sticks to his guns if the same situation arises. Then I think he should not be competing again in these contests now that he knows he may have to wrestle a girl he can forgo entering them again.
My hat is off to you Noel! You will never regret standing up for principles you believe in – even if it seems hard at the time.
Others feel like he might be scared of losing to a girl:
I think deep down he is worried that she might beat him.
He is absolutely afraid of losing.
He is a coward. He's afraid he's going to lose or he's afraid he's going to get made fun of or both. This isn't about convictions. He just needs to learn to leave his ego at the door.
Some say this is a no-win situation, for both parties involved:
This really is unfair to both of these young people. Unfair to him to have to make a choice of forfeit and lose his chances at becoming a champion, and unfair to her that there is no girl's wrestling opportunities. Please don't judge either of these people or their families, you don't know them.
I kind of know what this guy is going through. I hate to play against girls, even if its just a pick up game of 5 v 5 Basketball. The thing is is that if you do anything to the girl (in this case throw her to the ground/wrestle) and she ends up getting hurt, you look like the bad guy. If you end up losing to the girl, its not a big deal, but then people (at least in my experience) will think that maybe you held back since its a girl.
Some say he should have seen her as a competitor, who won her way to the tournament, much as he did, regardless of sex:
I don't see any reason why he shouldn't have just wrestled her, being from Iowa and a wrestler myself I can say for a fact, that wrestling is HUGE here. I've wrestled 2 different girls and neither time did it seem any difference than any other match. Its how you think of it, most of the wrestlers I know don't care who they wrestle, once the whistle blows its doesn't make a difference if its a boy or a girl. To not wrestle her after working so hard to get to state is just dumb, does he realize how many kids would kill to have a place down there?? and I guarantee that at least 90% of them would wrestle her anyway.
Girls were wrestling in my county in 1998 and since then, there have been no problems. While I agree that there are boys and girls sports for a reason, most counties do not offer a female wrestling team, so if they want to wrestle, they have no choice but to do so on the boys teams. And you are in NO position to tell them that they are bad parents for letting their daughter wrestle. If so, I must be a bad parent for letting my son play on a little-league team that allows boys and girls to play together.....it must promote violence and promiscuity....
Girls Can Grapple Too
I disagree with those male wrestlers who say boys wrestling girls are placed in a "no-win" situation. I have yet to see a girl wrestler complain or claim harassment when beaten by a boy. I have also seen boys lose graciously to girls. It's unfortunate that societal norms encourage the boys' peers to tease them if they are beaten fairly by a girl, but that's certainly not a reason to forbid girls to wrestle against boys. On the other hand, it's completely ridiculous to claim that boys are criticized if they beat girls. If you're saying that a serious male wrestler will allow a girl to win by not giving it his all because he's afraid he'll hurt the girl, that sounds like a lame excuse to me....
Has anyone stopped to think how the girl must've felt? I'd feel pretty bad if someone wouldn't wrestle me because of something about me I couldn't change. I mean, really, it's just a sport. I'm sure that's really sweet and thoughtful, but the girl SIGNED UP to wrestle. It's never mandatory. She's there to compete, not have guys fall to their knees while she takes the medal without wrestling. Pardon me for sounding feminist, but if she's decided to do it, let her do it. And what if she wins? She'll always wonder if she was really the number one wrestler, or if she should've been number two. Wrestling's about earning your wins.
A Mat Mom
I am from a town very close to all of these kids and when my son had to wrestle a girl it really was no BIG DEAL...By the way I have seen this girl wrestle and trust me she can hold her own and most boys dont want to have to face her because she really is that good and can truely hold her own Go Cassy
Others go on to point out that these are young people, and that the sport of wrestling is a very close contact competition:
Wrestling isn't like baseball, or other sports. It's a full contact sport where you grapple with your opponent. I wouldn't be comfortable wrestling a girl like that either. It's inappropriate to me, and I'm neither prudish nor religious. I wouldn't really feel comfortable groping on a girl like that. Especially in the high school years. With the amount of hormones raging there's no way your mind isn't going to wander.
I don't think it is so much a "combat" thing; as it is a "creepy" thing. I am the most liberal, women's rights, go girl person in the world – but, have you seen some of those contortionist grabs guys get into in wrestling. I think he is correct to feel uncomfortable grabbing a girl's crotch, or chest in order to flip her and pin shoulders to the mat.
If he's uncomfortable with it, forcing him would be akin to harassment. Wrestlers cannot only get violent, but some of their "holds" are in pretty personal places. As a woman, I wouldn't WANT a strange male athlete touching me in those places.... but that's just me.
There's also a good deal of back on forth on whether his decision was based on simple gender inequality:
Morals that treat men and women differently aren't morals that should be respected. No one would be tolerating his "morals" if he refused to wrestle a black student or a student of a different religion than himself. This is no different.
Maybe he would be more comfortable if she wore a burqa, or walked behind him to the arena. Wrestling is violent at times for males, too. These young women chose to participate, as did Northrup. He is refusing them the very opportunity he has received from all the other wrestlers he has competed against. I hope that he will ultimately see that his refusal is a form of social Neanderthalism re-packaged to be sold as "strict convictions." Bias is bias, discrimination is discrimination. Hope all your future bosses are women!
Boys/Girls/ Men/Women are not equal when it comes to physical prowess. That is why when the best athletes in the world compete they separate men and women. I DO believe girls/women should have the same rights as boys/men in life. However, to say that the guy has no right to "say no" when it comes to physical contact with a girl is hypocritical.
And a closing comment seeing the good and bad on both sides of the debate:
In life, not everything is either black or white...like this topic, many things fall into the gray area. Everybody is trying so hard to be right, and prove others wrong. When, in actuality, nobody is right and nobody is wrong here. The very reason this is such a hot topic is because both sides can, and do, make great points. I will choose to remain open minded, and enjoy this interesting debate.
What's your take? Do you take Northrup's statement at face value, or do you think there maybe more at play behind the young man's actions?