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. david

    If you want to see what character and integrity looks like, observe Joel Northrup.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Da King


      February 23, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  2. boss


    February 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • abu


      February 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Bob

      Not only is he a wuss, he belittles women. Me thinks the wuss couldn't handle the possibility of being beat by a girl.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • our opinion

      Male vs, Female wrestling is just plain stupid. It is improper for any man to treat a woman like that. It is really good to see that there are young men in this country who show that much respect towards women. I am sure that their coach did not appreciate the gesture or the other team mates, but it was the right thing to do. I cannot even imagine letting my daughter wrestle a young man. I can't even believe the school allows it. With so many accidents happening in football alone last year at the high school level and below additional sports accidents like boys and girls wrestling each other is an accident waiting to happen. I would not care if my daughter did want to wrestle young men, that is what parents are for, being responsible.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  3. Bruce M

    I'm Jewish and I agree completely with this young man.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  4. Hillary

    In boxing mem box men , women box women wrestling should be the same.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  5. Anthony B

    My dad is a pastor of a christain church, I wrestled in high school and this was never an issue. I was on the team to compete 100% Religion is supposed to be separate from school esp when it has to do w sports. To me this was just lame...not sure if he was scared but to use this as a moral moment was just disappointing. She would have faced him no problem! Another reason I dislike organized religion sometimes their influence makes ZERO sense.

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

      He didn't forfeit because of organized religion. He forfeited because of personal conviction. There's a difference.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
  6. Cogitoergosum

    The idea that he is uncomfortable wrestling with a girl is predicated on the notion that he is performing some maneuvers that are overly intimate, such as the butt drag.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  7. jack

    Boys are wrestling girls? Are we serious? As a former H.S. wrestler, I am appalled. Wrestling for those who have never been in it is a very aggressive sport. You can’t have any second thoughts on where your hands are at or at what speed you should move. Unlike most sports it is 110% for 6 minutes. Have you ever heard of the high crotch maneuver? How about the inadvertent body slam? How uncomfortable is that especially for teenage boys or girls. Somewhere along the lines the equal rights and accountability issue went wrong here. Girls can wrestle, that's great. Just match them up with other girls like in other sports.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • JC

      Dude your gay!

      February 23, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Cason

      "Wrestling for those who have never been in it is a very aggressive sport." Yes, she knows this. "You can’t have any second thoughts on where your hands are at or at what speed you should move" Nor should he worry about it. It's either a purely aggressive sport or a s-x-al sport. If it's the former, then there should ne no problem, if it's the latter, then he better watch his hands when wrestling guys too. S-x isn't just limited to boy-girl. If there is a worry about "how it looks" he shouldn't be wrestling at all.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  8. Thomas Glasgow

    Guess he won't be a Gynecologist as you have to touch
    women in funny ways.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  9. David

    Why is this on the Front Page of CNN when there are so many other important things going on in the world? Do I really care? Why does CNN insist on pandering to the conservative christian part of America when there are so many more important issues? Screw CNN! You are a bunch of bozos! I'll stick to the BBC or New York Times for REAL journalism. Heck, even Al Jazeera is better ....

    February 23, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  10. Shannanigans

    “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

    Wow, did this make me laugh out loud. I have read the bible unfortunately and don't recall too many biblical christian principles that say to treat women with respect and dignity. Maybe that is somewhere in the back. Unless they mean keeping her in the house under lock and key with a muzzle on.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Eric

      Spoken like an ignorant individual who doesn't know what they're talking about, and hasn't taken the time to research or verify any facts before they spew garbage out of their mouth. The Bible does talk about this. Read it.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  11. Tom

    It's only obvious one of three reasons kept him from wrestling this young lady. 1. He was scared he would lose to her. 2. He was scared he would get an erection. 3. He is gay and does not like to touch girls. Either way, he was scared that he would be completely ridiculed and embarresed. To blame it on his RELIGIOUS views just proves that RELIGION IS HE TRUE ROOT OF ALL EVIL!!!!!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Deiseliciecix

      It says ALOT about your character that you have never met this man, yet you insist on believing he is lying, yet no where is there proof of character or that he is a known lier. The fact you cannot take what he says at face value and believe him until he proves otherwise shows you have severe trust issues. I would almost bet money you are the guy/girl who checks a lovers or spouses email, IM's, phone records, to ensure they arnt doing something wrong, because you can't believe another person can be honest.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  12. wrestlemania

    I would think a Christian would be more concerned about boys wrestling other boys. Way to stay on message!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  13. Matt

    Sorry dude I think you need to grow up–how do you know that the men you wrestle aren't copping a feel on your junk? So you can't use that defense for one second–maybe the chick is a lesbian anyway–did you ask to make sure?
    I think the kid thought he might lose and so he makes up the quickest excuse he can to make himself look macho in the face of a possible defeat by a girl. Not a noble act by any means!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  14. news12.

    First of all, his argument that wrestling can get violent is stating the obvious. It's something Cassy is obviously aware of since she is a wrestler! Good for her for going out there and doing what she loves. They have the same body size, and she has every right to compete. If this were about race, would we even be discussing it? Of course not. I'm sick of all the gender inequality that still exists. Women are paid less, promoted less, and still earn no respect in sports. Even though I kick most guys butt on the basketball court, in pick up games I can always count on being assigned the worst player on the opposing team to defend, just because of my gender. I'm also given weird looks when i ask to join a pick up game, regardless of how good I am. It's time for men to get over themselves and know that women who are serious about sports are not going to complain about being hit too hard or getting hurt, they are out there because they want to be, regardless of the risks.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • John

      No where did this kid say he didn't respect this young lady. Never!! He said he didn't so he decided to forfeit. His decision. Your self serving feminist rant aside...he did what he felt was right. Congrats on being a great athlete. As long as you continue to feel inferior, you will be. You determine how people treat you. Get over yourself.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  15. Paul NYC

    Bottom line: He didn't want to risk losing to a woman because his teammates and friends would ridicule him incessantly. Is that hard to understand?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  16. vlahos

    The kid has class! to those who think otherwise, your opinion doesn't count, your sense of morals are buried in a nasty crevice somewhere...ahem

    February 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  17. LockandLoad

    I agree!!! Girls with girls!!!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
  18. Jamie

    What does being Christian have to do with wrestling a girl? Discuss

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

      I'm thinking the same thing?

      February 23, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • Rasputin

      Probably Old Testament actually. No boxing Kangaroos on the Sabbath either.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • chelseykia

      1 Peter 3:7 : You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

      (5th time)

      February 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • chelseykia

      *throws hands up in the air* I give up.

      Basically, the crux of the comment was : "Jesus respected all the women in his life, and encouraged the men to do the same."

      February 23, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • EM

      11th commandment: Thou shallt not wrestle girls ..... unless you are another girl ...... and there's mud involved .......

      February 24, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  19. blake

    I commend this young man for his willingness to step aside from what was a personal goal that he was heavily invested in to do the right thing. Perhaps this will be a wakeup call for his state to split wrestling into men and women's brackets.

    I am appalled at the lack of character of many responding to this article. It is a sad commentary of where you are at.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
  20. Rosstafari

    I KNOW!!! Men are WAY stronger than girls are!!! RIGHT??!! OMG!!!

    sarcasm. morons.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
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About this blog

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.