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February 23rd, 2011
03:45 PM ET

Wrestler who refused to grapple with girl explains decision

The high school wrestler in Iowa who forfeited a match against a girl in a state tournament last week says he objected both to "compromising" positions that such a match could entail and to the idea of inflicting violence on a girl.

“Wrestling is a combat sport, and at times it gets violent, and you get put in moves and holds that are comprising,” said Joel Northrup, a sophomore. “I just don’t believe it's right that a boy and a girl should, in this manner, wrestle.”

Northrup’s dad, Jamie, said that the decision to forfeit was his son’s alone but that it reflected the family’s Christian convictions.

“Even though there’s no specific Scripture that addresses wrestling with girls, there is the biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity,” Jamie Northrup said, “and not looking at them as objects to be defeated on the wrestling mat to be, in some cases, groped or slammed.”

Joel Northrup, of Linn-Mar, forfeited a match Thursday to Cassy Herkelman, a freshman from Cedar Falls, who then advanced by default.

Both Northrup and Herkelman lost subsequent matches and were eliminated from the tournament before the finals.

But Northrup said Wednesday that he would forfeit a match against a girl even if it meant giving up a state championship.

“I would give up the chance," he said. "I wouldn’t wrestle a girl, whether it’s finals or any other meet or districts.”

Northrup said female wrestlers should face other girls.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Sports • United States

soundoff (1,396 Responses)
  1. HOSTILE177

    Raise your hand if you think women should be playing in the NFL. I didn't think so...
    Good job Joel. Sportsmanship also means showing good judgment, even if it means walking away.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Jason Blasen

      My hand is raised. If a girl makes it to the NFL...let her play.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • amused123

      that is the most bogus statement I have heard all day

      February 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Jsaltz

      No, Jason

      February 23, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • razzle snake

      Watch the movie fighter the foreign film, not the fighter. Although this is a movie, some women are tougher than others and can compete on all levels, not many but when they are there we should not discriminate.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  2. Jim

    This is the problem in society today we are all so quick to judge. We are losing our values, ethics, and beliefs. We are crossing lines that should not be crossed and losing respect for all not just women or men. Big guys to wrestle a woman you all are, see how easy it is to judge.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • Kevin

      I really don't understand why this is even news. So what? You can't tell me he's the first boy to never want to wrestle a girl. His convictions are valid and mature . . . and he's showing respect for women! I applaud him. Now start covering real news.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  3. Javier

    He was afraid he'd get a woodrow

    February 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  4. rekounas

    “Even though there’s no specific Scripture that addresses wrestling with girls, there is the biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity,”

    No there is not!!! Not even close.

    "For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head;" 1 Corinthians 11:9, 10.

    "women should remain silent in churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission..."1 Corinthians 14:34

    "Wives submit to your husbands, as is fitting to the Lord." Colossians 3:18

    "When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. … If a man lies with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days..." Leviticus 15:19-32.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  5. craig

    this is a lose-lose-lose situation. The boy looses because he doesn't get to compete, the girl looses because she advances not knowing if she is really the better wrestler (who is ever impressed by a false victory) , and the sport looses because it will likely fade away as an attractive sport for boys if they are forced to compete against girls. I think feminism has gone a little too far here. I can't believe parents and school officials would allow this. A boy having an erection during a match would be very embarrassing and quite painful in a cup.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  6. laboom

    So in your Christian view women are not to be viewed as "objects to be defeated on the wrestling mat to be, in some cases, groped or slammed.” but in your Christian view it IS ok for men to be viewed as "objects to be defeated on the wrestling mat to be, in some cases, groped or slammed.” People are weird...

    February 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  7. Sarah Clark

    What great conviction! So glad to see a guy who would be willing to give up a state championship, if necessary, to avoid hurting a girl!

    February 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  8. JPC

    Now, now Californian, let's be nice. That's what us Iowans are taught. What are you Californians taught?

    February 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Californian

      We're taught how to be world leaders in technology, entertainment and numerous other industries here in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Even our corn tastes better than yours.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  9. matt

    umm, where in the bible does it say you should respect women?

    February 23, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  10. BJOHN

    Man i would of straight laid that girl out. Screw wrestling i probably would of just gave her a kick in the face! Teach her whose the dominant gender you know knock her down a few pegs.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  11. Dave NY USA

    “Wrestling is a combat sport..."
    Son, you know NOTHING about combat. Just admit you were afraid to get beat by a girl that is obviously more of a man now than you will ever be.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • dorkus

      I reckon that's why he said it was a combat SPORT, and not COMBAT.

      I understand that you are working very hard to take offense, but that little nugget of yours is a reach.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Northview

      Doesn't sound like you know anything about combat either.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  12. Ray

    I think this you man showed more strength buy not fighting than he would have by defeating a her. I a world were violence against women is a norm I think he made a stand for what he believed in.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Kristen

      interesting you assume he would have defeated her...

      February 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  13. Beast

    well..First I hope the "victor" in this case understands that it wasn't skill, but gender, that won her match. The double standard. Should females be wrestling males? They are physically weaker, and cause problems like this...

    February 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Boomer

      Yeah, the women are put in a position of "groping" men, too. Is that any different? Where are women's standards?

      February 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  14. oneStarman

    I SUPPOSE if this were wrestling as the ancients did it; they would be Naked and then there would be no problem. I noticed that on Nude Beaches after a while no one pays any attention to anyone else.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  15. Mark

    I wrestled in high school and had to face the same decision once. I chose to go ahead and wrestle! There is nothing wrong with this young man's decision, but I felt that it was unfair to both my opponent and the sport to forfeit. If she chose to wrestle, then she must understand the inherit violence and occasionally compromising positions the sport puts you in.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  16. Erin

    What an awesome opportunity to grope. Fail.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • RW

      Followed by a tent in the southern region...I completely understand his decision ... at least from that perspective ... can't have the entire audience, team, etc seeing said 'tent'

      February 23, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  17. Adrian

    I am a feminist who believes in equality and eliminating gender stereotypes and double standards. On that note, no one shoud hit anyone (men or women) unless in self defense. As this is a sport, that is kind of under the same category. Girls can defend themselves and it's degrading to act like they are too weak to be fought with.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • Northview

      He never said she was too weak.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • JP11

      Or maybe you're just bitter cause you spell your name like a boy...?

      February 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • paige

      To want to be respected or to be respected does not make you weak. So many today want to view chivalry, honor, and respect for woman as degrading. I should not need to point out why that is so contradicting.To each person respect and kindness mean a variety of things. In some cultures respect is breathing on the person you're talking to, that same behavior would be quite offensive in another culture. Religion or moral values often create a culture on their own. Allowing that boy to show respect for woman in a way he understands respect is more of what a society racked with crimes against woman needs to embrace.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Michael

      Adrian, that is not what this is about at all. During the 90’s I respected the feminist view and didn't compliment a woman, hold the door for her, let alone let her always go ahead of me in line. Then it dawned on me how stupid it was of me to not do what I felt was the correct thing to do. For there is a reason why women are considered the “better half”. What would be really great is for feminist's to have an easily identifiable way of showing to the world they are feminists. Then I would know which women I would treat as someone special compared to equal to me. But if you want me to treat you as I would another man, then I hope you don’t mind if I don’t go to the extra effort to hold the elevator for you.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  18. Mark

    Whether I agree or disagree with women competing against men is not at issue for me in this instance. This young man has a core set of beliefs and rather than compromise them he stood up for them, there are not many that would do the same, especially at such a young age. I would not be surprised if this young man received some ridicule, from friends or teammates, for his decision either. It is rare today to see someone so young stand up for his beliefs, whether you agree with them or not, they are not beliefs that incite hate or fear, it seemed to me he merely believed in respecting the young lady. I can get behind that kind of belief.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
    • paige

      well said mark 😀

      February 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  19. SBK85

    His father said "there is the biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity".

    Wait, what? The same Christian principle that forbids women from becoming ministers or priests? The same Christian principle that allows the father to sell his daughter (read up on the Bible)?

    Respecting women and equal rights for women is a secular value, NOT a Christian one. Get it right, dad.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Northview

      So he should have wrestled her? I don't understand your point.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Avelee

      Very true. Christianity has severely hindered women's rights for hundreds of years, and continues to do so.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • Kristen

      My thoughts exactly.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • john

      thats catholicism buddy. nice try

      February 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • paige

      From a closed mind perspective you can view the bible as suppressive. But, if you open your eyes and take off your bias, you will see that the bible teaches that there are inherent differences between man and woman. Woman is not inferior or superior to man. They simply have different roles. Different does not mean not as valuable. Woman played a very influential role in the bible. I would be honored to posses the characteristics of several women in the bible. Unlike many women today, they seemed to have an understanding of who they really were and the importance of their divine nature and individual worth. Women would greatly benefit from studying these strong women from the bible.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • JP11

      You're not very learned, are you?

      February 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Neil D.

      Northrup, it isn't an all-or-nothing proposition. One can disagree with the lad's (patently and demonstrably absurd) statement that Christianity teaches respect towards women, and still support and respect his decision not to wrestle the girl. Just because his reasoning isn't sound, doesn't mean his actions were wrong.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Neil D.

      Ack. "Northview". Sorry.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • Northview

      Neil first my comment wasn't clear sorry, second his proposition is a fallacy. At least his proposition as to the interpretation of the Christian Bible. There are many different perspectives on the Bible and to make a blatant statement that Christians believe women are inferior is an ignorant statement. Also to your point, describing something as a Christian value doesn't exclude the fact that it can be valued by others as well.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • laura

      Yes women should not be priests or ministers. That has nothing to do with a guys groping a girl for a sport.
      Also, men selling their daughters was never acceptable by god it was a societal norm in the region and still is in many areas of the world.
      Jesus taught "husbands love your wives as christ loved the church and gave himself for it". Yes it is talking about marriage but that is generally the only time that men and women interacted closely back then (not because god told them to but because of society). Jesus is all about love but he is also about self control and that is what the kid in this story is refering to. He respects women and does not want to cross the line even if she is ok with it. Eventhough many people put it crudely that he didn't do it because he would get "excited' they are probably partially right. But it has more to do with not crossing the line mentally or physically with this girl and he does that out of respect.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  20. wresler's mom

    I saw my son from 3rd grade to sr. in high school wrestle. He went from 50lb. midget(AAU) to a 115lb senior in high school.
    He had girls in his weight classes; but never had to wrestle one! I am almost positive he woulda made EXACTLEY the same decision. This young man made an adult decision. There should be more young people like him.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.