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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. APeasant

    Why is this news? This is totally unimportant. Her choice to play, his choice to forefit, can we move on now?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
  2. Dan

    So, if a Chrisitian follows his conscience, he needs to "grow a pair," but if he didn't I suppose you'd vilify him as a hypocrite, eh?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Dave

      They don't care what he does. Just so long as he says he's Christian and says he supports the same politics they do. That's all that they really want.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • T. Lee

      What you obviously don't understand – is that there are more important principles in life than "growing a pair" – 'eh??

      February 23, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  3. JWH

    Hogwash. The first scripture is that it it NOT GOOD for a man to touch a woman. That settles it. Keeping that one Saith the Lord would save a lot of babies and grief.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
  4. Greg

    Putting Christianity aside, if he wrestles the girl he may be uncomfortable grabbing her in certain places.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  5. WrestlingMom

    We are starting to see more female wrestlers participating in the sport, hopefully soon it will no longer be co-ed. That will allow for better matches for the girls. This boy made his decision and forfeited his match. I don't know if he would have won or lost and it doesn't matter. I do feel for the girl, I imagine that she spent the season practicing like the other kids and her chance to show what she had accomplished was taken from her.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  6. Jeff

    So, let me get this straight . . . the kid's dad thinks that women should be treated with respect and dignity and therefore not wrestled, but that men should not be treated the same way (i.e., with respect and dignity)?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  7. JB

    What a load of crap. I think she's got bigger balls than he does.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  8. JudyTTexas

    Where's Andy Kaufman when you need him... 😉

    February 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  9. agnostic

    An example of how religion makes people narrow-minded....

    February 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  10. Willy

    Imagine what would happen if she started to lose, then claimed he had touched her inappropriately?
    Or if he got visibly excited rolling around on the mat with her?
    Bible B.S. or not, he may simply have done the smart thing, otherwise it'd be all his fault.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  11. Blessed Geek

    I think his refusal is based more on carnal desires than on religious values.

    He wants to reserve his opportunities of close physical encounters with someone he would marry and have babies with in the future. He wants to preserve the pleasure of such encounters rather than having his future sense of pleasure and enjoyment being diluted by previous extra-curricular encounters.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  12. arona

    i am a woman and i support the boy's decision. I dont think feminists or men need to prove a point by fighting men. We are both good at different things. I think the boy was put in a difficult spot ! And if i were a boy, i wouldn't fight a woman as a matter of principle.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  13. T-party

    I do not get it. Is he gay ? or religious? or both. I love wrestling women. but I am straight and agnostic.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  14. BralenX

    I don't blame him. Who wants to wrestle a girl? Girls are gross!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  15. mer101

    I bet the girl was disappointed that she couldn't wrestle...something that she is obviously good enough at to be allowed to do it with boys. But, this guy has every right to withdraw and he did so respectfully. I commend the maturity that he showed in both standing up for his beliefs and doing it without being long-winded or annoying about it.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  16. Zohaib

    what kind off crap is this, why would they even put a girl against a guy, does that happen alot? and if it does don't girls lose like 99% of the time? we're just generally bigger and more muscular how could we ever lose in a grappling sport such as this one

    February 23, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • tj

      Aren't there weight classes? If two men weigh 150 pounds, does that make them both lose, or win? 150 lbs and fit is 150 lbs and fit. It has nothing to do with genitals.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Arthur R

      @tj
      Of course it matters! Weight on its own is not an accurate indicator when it comes to male and female. Males have a lower percent body fat so the same weight is in muscular mass rather than fat. Are you saying that if a man and women weigh the same they are equals in the ring? that if they weigh the same the girl has the same amount of strength as the boy? That she can flip him grapple him just as well? If so brush up on you anatomy

      February 23, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  17. bumble

    I don't fault him, but to say it is because of his religion is silly. His feeling are inline with how western culture views females. Not necessarily as weaker, but as valuable. Western culture frowns on harming women and men are raised to protect women. This is why we grapple with the idea of women in combat situations. He may have truly felt awful if he hurt the girl. I cannot blame him for that.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • Mark

      What? He SPECIFICALLY says it is because of his religious beliefs so how can you say its silly?

      February 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Hmmm

      So instead of protected, we should stone them if they wear clothes too revealing or try to be educated. Is that the more enlightened approach?

      February 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  18. MichaelJ.

    Of course he's afraid to wrestle her: He's afraid he'll LOSE!

    February 23, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  19. billp

    The boy didn't want to risk getting his butt whipped by a girl.

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

      I doubt it. He should have wrestled her and made a statement for all men by beating her and making her think about wrestling men. Of course for all I know she may be part boy. Hermaphrodite??

      February 23, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  20. ron brooks

    smart kid and a gentleman to boot but of course the feminazis will not see it this way

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

      Didn't know it was considered gentlemanly and respectful to embarrass her and ignore the fact the she was the one who chose to wrestle.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:09 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.