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. Herzog

    I agree with the kid's decision, even though Christianity itself is obviously a rather silly creed. But dudes and chicks wrestling together at a school function? That doesn't seem right. Either have an all-chick team or nothing at all.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Christopher

      I like how you point out that Christianity is 'obviously' a poor justification, but then turn around and claim that some feeling that you have should be taken for truth.

      Take a look into Christianity, I think you'd be pleasantly surprised

      February 23, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Spritz

      How do you know Herzog doesn't know what he's talking about? Perhaps he gave that route a shot and found it to be silly. I have and I will say the same.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  2. davenj

    The bible cop out is the worst. That book doesn't support treating women with respect. In fact, it's the basis for the supression and abuse of women all over the western world. If he wanted to forfiet, that's his decision, but certainly don't mask it behind some bogus religious conviction. He was probably just scared of getting beat.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • brett

      Maybe the kid is evolving and beginning to treat women with respect. I guess you haven't evolved to this point yet.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Luis

      I don't blame the kid. Just know that he has no way of winning here:

      1. If he beats the girl, then everybody will say: "oh...you beat a girl..."

      2. If he loses..then everyone will say: "omg!!! You lost to a girl!!!"

      There's no way of winning here so the best thing is: let girls fight girls and boys boys...This kid is showing more decency and common sense than the average American.

      Just a thought...

      February 23, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Len

      Sorry my friend a women is special to a man and should be treated that way. Your western thought is confused, love with man and women is to be treated with great compassion because of marriage, and the way the Lord has directed them to cleave together forever.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Jason

      It's called standing for what you believe in. The kid had guts to stick with what he felt was right. Obviously, he's already exceeded your own mental condition.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Christopher

      "In fact, it's the basis for the supression and abuse of women all over the western world." <– where'd you read that?

      Now take that source, read the Bible, and see if it matches up.
      Be careful not to take either reading out of context.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • South Florida

      I applaud the kid. He did it tastefully too.

      This country has too many chicks like Snooki. Its OK for them to punch you but its not OK to hit them back.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • T. Clark

      That's ridiculous, Brett. Showing her respect would have been to face her in a sport they both chose to participate in instead of showing her the disrespect of deciding where her place is instead of allowing her to do so. She earned the right to be there the same as he did, and he's within his rights to default...but there's no respect paid in his decision to ignore the effort she made to be there to fight with him.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • KC

      @Brett – how is he treating that girl with respect? He's disrespecting her by saying she's not good enough for him to wrestle solely because of her gender but obviously she was good enough to get to the state championship arena.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • ChaseK

      The Bible does in fact support the respectful treatment of women. I agree with the young man's decision completely. I'm glad some other people have the courage to stand up for what they believe.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Joscha

      Daven doesn't know the Bible, only pretends he does. Women are created in the image of God just like men. The Bible doesn't tolerate or propagate any abuse of women. I was in wrestling myself, and we never put male and female wrestlers together, first because of physical differences and then out of ethical reasons. I think it is a sign of very poor judgement, to say the least, if males and females are put together in a wrestling match. I applaud the young man who refused to wrestle a girl. I wish that those in charge of these events would have more sense in their heads.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Spritz

      I gotta agree with Davenj. Using the bible as a reason for any moral action is nonsensical. The kid shouldn't believe it's right to wrestle the girl because some piece of paper says so, he should do it cause it's intrinsically moral. And you guys should probably read the bible yourself or learn some history, cause Christianity has been the driving force behind many brutal wars, and the bible oppresses women. Sure they don't practice it now, but it was still written that way. And before you all go howling for proof here's some reference. "And a man will choose...any wickedness, but the wickedness of a woman...Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die" Ecclesiasticus, 25:18, 19 & 33.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • TheInconvenientMooseTruth

      Haven't read all the comments, so this might have been gone over before.

      There is one, AND ONLY ONE, reason that he didn't wrestle with a female...

      He didn't want to get an erection in front of a huge crowd.


      February 23, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • dangin

      My 11-year-old daugther has been playing in a boys basketball league since she was in second grade. She now is the co-mvp of a boys 5th grade basketball team. She out rebounds, and blocks the shots of boys her age on a regular basis. She is 5'7" as a 5th grader. Anyway. That boy should sack up. All he did was fail and take an excuse to do it. He was afraid of losing, and made Jesus the scapegoat. But christians do that all the time. That's how he took their sins for them.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  3. dspoorman

    If he loses, he loses big. And if he wins, he doesn't win at all. Seriously, equality doesn't mean willful ignorance of the facts. A progressive societal equilibrium doesn't mean that one day each and every single consideration of the differences between men and women should be eradicated. A girl wrestles with girls until she can beat them all then she gets to wrestle the men to see how many she can defeat? How about the boy who can't beat any of the males gets to wrestle the girls? And if he beats all of them does he get the gold? Take it both ways and all of sudden it's not so soundly based.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  4. John

    "there is the biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity" is a laughable statement. Obviously they've never read the old testament.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Christopher

      And obviously you haven't read the New Testament

      February 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Avelee

      John – Thank you for standing up for women.

      Christopher – You can't pick and choose which parts of the bible are real and which are fairy tales. As much as the "god-hates-f@gs" type of christians irritate me, at least they actually fully stand behind your silly bible.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Luke

      Here's a nice, consolidated list for you. http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/women/long.html . I'm sure you can argue some are taken out of context, or translated incorrectly compared to whatever sect you happen to be a part of, but it's an awfully long list. It'll take a while.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  5. Jesus

    I would have farted in her face.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • pazke

      That doesn't surprise me.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  6. Travis

    I wrestled in Junior High and High School, and I support both Joel's decision, but also Cassy's right to compete. If Joel wanted to walk away, that was his choice. I can neither applaud nor degrade his decision. It is good of him to stand up for his convictions, but it is also just a sport and male or female she is a peer and an equal. I don't really think he is showing her special respect, if anything, he is not treating her as an equal.

    And she is an equal if she was good enough to get there on her own.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  7. Mohamed

    I agree with you " WOMEN should wrestle with a WOMEN' and " MAN should wrestle with MAN " . If today the guy and the girl should wrestle and the guy won, i am sure people will start saying you won a cup against a women lol so I am with you my friend do not wrestle with a women ever

    February 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  8. Jsaltz

    The kid is lying. He's not refusing to wrestle a girl because of his Christian beliefs. He's refusing to do so because if he loses his classmates will make fun of him. If he wins, its not a victory, cuz it is a girl.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • pazke

      Don't project your feelings onto him. Just because that's what you would be afraid of doesn't mean that that's what's going on in his head.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  9. tallulah13

    The girl was completely aware of what wrestling entails. This boy did not respect her because he decided she was too weak. Participating in sports is not the same as hitting your spouse. For example, the girl can be just as rough as the boy, and if it goes to far, one would as-sume that the ref would interfere. There are rules to sports. There are only laws in the aftermath of domestic abuse.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • pazke

      He never said she was too weak. He said he didn't want to put her in compromising positions. Perhaps it was because he thought it might arouse him. That's okay, too. If she's gonna go against the grain and want to wrestle boys then she's going to have to expect these types of things to happen. He has just as much right to forfeit the match as she has the right to be there in the first place..

      February 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • tallulah13

      He can forfeit sure, but either he did not respect her enough to compete against her, thought she would beat him or was afraid of his own body. He did not respect her enough to treat her equally. That's his weakness.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  10. SK

    Three Cheers to this young lad who stood by for what he believed in. A gentleman and an officer in the making.

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


      February 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • An Officer

      Would you really want an Officer who by giving special treatment to the women subordinate to him knowingly puts his male soldiers at greater/unequal harm? Obviously the military has tried to keep women out of harms way but roadside bombs and mortars blur the line of what is and is not combat duty. Perhaps an officer would look at this and say, "the girl volunteered to be in this position and knows the compromising situations that may arise...she is facing adversity head on and for that, I respect her choice to compete."

      February 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  11. BB

    Perhaps he was afraid she might "check his oil"

    February 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  12. Truth

    The 'All in the Family' theme song says it best "...and you knew who you were then.....girls were girls and men were men..."

    February 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  13. Melissa

    I commend this young man for his integrity and standing behind his beliefs. I also credit his parents for raising him to stand-up for what he believes in.

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

      You commend him not treating women as equals?

      February 23, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  14. Luke

    P*ssy. If he actually respected women he'd treat them equally. This girl had the strength of mind, body and will to make it this far. Only so this kid could refuse because she's a girl. He was either worried about being beaten by a girl tougher than himself, or popping a chub.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • Jason Blasen

      Completely agree with you 100%. If you are a wrestler at heart you'll wrestle a girl regardless.

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

      You obviously respect woman tremendously. I mean, calling someone a euphemism for the female genitalia to insult them shows you are a great believer in the dignity of women.

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

      It was more important to him to be a man before a wrestler. Good for you Joel. Some 'men' will never get this.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Northview

      Luke you have on multiple occasions used pejoratively language that is offensive to females in reference to a man who has positioned himself as respecting women the irony isn't lost on me but I believe it is on you.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  15. BJOHN

    Her next fight is with a Muslim.... he has already swore to wipe the floor with her!

    February 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • amused123

      Yes. After she pinned you and beg for mercy.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • DM

      Is Bobby Franklin a Muslim? Just wondering...

      February 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  16. jess

    Hmm...He's a young boy around puberty. Does anyone thing he didn't want to wrestle because he might...get a bit excited wrestling with a female?

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

      THANK YOU! Ever since I heard this story I thought, bless his heart, no smart teenage boy wants to start grappling with a girl like that in public - in Spandex. Certain things in the teen years have even more of a mind of their own than they do when they...make grown men make foolish choices...

      I'm sure this young man has all sorts of "principles" and whatnot, but he's also got a keen sense of self-presevation.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • pazke

      Even if that was his reason, it does show respect for her for him to forfeit the match because of it.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  17. Grim Reaper

    maybe more homely women should take up wrestling so they can get groped. woof woof

    February 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Cleveland123

      You probably have a lot of stupid things running around in your head. Tell me, how did you manage to settle on this little gem to share with us readers?

      February 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  18. Jerry Senzee

    Truth be told, most boys wouldn't wrestle a girl, for various reasons and combinations thereof. What is the big deal here? This is a non issue if there ever was one. Can't believe we're spending time on this, including myself. Bye.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  19. Tifosi

    Unlike earlier times when whites refused to wrestle blacks out of disrespect for them, he refused to wrestle her because he Respected women! Take him at his word and dont think he was too afraid to wrestle her. I applaud him for having the balls to not be pressured into doing something he didn't want to do.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • anonCNN

      It could actually be interpreted as disrespect towards her. She wasn't forced to the wrestling mat against her will to be beat up by a guy. She was there because she likes wrestling and trained hard to qualify.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  20. Bob

    We condemn violence against women but we can body slam them on the wrestling mat huh? I agree with this young man.

    February 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • anonCNN

      There is a HUGE difference. This girl was not forced to the wrestling match against her will. She was there because she trained and qualified to be there. She likes wrestling and is clearly good enough to have made it to the state championship tournament.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • Steve9337

      You can't body slam any one in real wrestling, male or female.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:35 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.