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. Joe

    He'd rather be in a compromising position with another boy!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • mcmom

      I suppose only people like you would think of something so stupid to say. Maybe YOU would rather be groped by another man??? Grow up.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • jimbob joe

      lol !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      February 23, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Cason

      Mcmom, his point is completely legitimate, so stop treating him with ad hominem fallacies.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • mcmom

      You're right, Cason. But his comment is till utterly ridiculous and stupid.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  2. Michelle

    Oh please! Christianity has absolutely nothing to do with this!! I was raised Christian and my parents always told me to go after my dreams and if I wanted to wrestle and be the only female on the team, they would have said more power to me. Also, she was second in her district so this girl was clearly good as she was at STATE! Her dad wrestled and went to state so she comes from a wrestling family. What it comes down to is he was afraid he may be beaten by a girl. Can't we all just admit to the obvious?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Al Win


      February 23, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • derf

      i agree. if you win, its because you were wrestling a girl and if you lose you just got beat by a girl. its a no win situation. i would have done the same thing

      February 23, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • notyourname

      But he was also at state, so who's to say he wouldn't have won? Can't understand why any woman would want to be groped by a bunch of high school boys.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Ralph Henson

      I think you have a dream that all girls would beat all boys. Both girls in the state meet had the same results, lost in consecutive matches. Where is the possibility that the girl wins?

      February 23, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • sid

      you're an idiot for thinking that. get your ass back to the kitchen.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • Trevor

      I dont believe it has anything to do with fear of defeat. I am currently a wrestler, and I dont agree with girls wrestling with boys. It's wrong on more than one level. I have no problem with girls wrestling if they wrestle other girls. This kid is fifteen, I don't understand how you can be angry with someone who is making a decision based on his morals. Maybe it is hard for you to understand because you are not a man. I am talking from experience, because I have wrestled a girl and it was not a comfortable experience.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • TS

      So you are saying that your Christian views should be the same as how everyone should else views their beliefs. Sorry, but I do not buy this whole "he was afraid to wrestle a girl" idea. You are right. You don't make it to state without being a good wrestler. This means this boy is a good wrestler as well. You really think he went through all that training and intense wrestling matches just to be afraid of losing to a girl? You don't make it to state by forfeiting, because you are afraid to lose a match. I understand him forfeiting for his beliefs, not him being afraid.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • my name

      Just sayin girls are weak by nature and built for different things. Yea some girls are tough but 9.9 times outta 10 the girl would lose to a equally weighed boy

      Much respect to the kid wrestler

      February 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Larry

      What is interesting is that someone feels that they can pick and choose which Christian principles to follow. Jesus and the early Christians would not have physically wrtestled with anyone for they taught that violence was wrong. Therefore, they didn't prepare for war nor involve themselves in the training for it. They did not become gladiators nor did they even watch such combat.

      To follow Christian and biblical principles requires one to proclaim the Kindom message and stay away from all violence whether actual warfare or games of combat.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  3. D.

    Great excuse!!! Afraid of getting your ass kicked?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  4. Jim

    Christianity has NOTHING to do with this, nor should it. What a bunch of BS. I think the kid is stand up OK. He did what HE felt was right, which is all that matters. Personally, I think there should be separate wrestling for men/women. But HE did what HE thought was right. Good for you for standing up for what YOU think is right, no matter about anything else!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  5. Paul

    He didn't honor that girl by not wrestling her, he insulted her (and, essentially, all women).

    February 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • AC

      Exactly right. I wonder how many people would be cheering if the girl had been black or Jewish, and the kid's religious convictions not to compete with them.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  6. Cason

    I cannot express how completely opposite I feel compared to this young man. You aren't being respectful by patronizing her and rejecting her opinion and choice, and you aren't being any sort of gentleman looking down on her. And the "compromising" positions are limited, and if you think you are you should simply quit, after all you wouldn't want to look gay, right?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  7. Chris B

    God bless their little, Neanderthal minds!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  8. Two Witnesses

    I knew it..he's gay....

    February 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  9. spocksbrain

    Oh well too bad. He lost and she won. The end.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  10. Simmy

    Amen. I love that young man and I'm proud that he stood up for what he believed to be right. It's not easy to go against popular opinion.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  11. Dan Boston

    In a time where people say they would do this or that, very few actually stand up and say, "No, I won't do that." This young man showed courage and literally gave up something all athlete strives for...to be the best you can be in the arena you compete in. Wrestling is a really rough sport and to equal the playing field, contestants are placed into weight classes. At the state level, if you loss or forfeit a match, you go into another bracket. So basically, you lose twice and you are out. This young man has character that many of our leaders lack. Way to stick to your guns and be a man that others will look up to one day.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • Ceri

      He showed the courage to not get beat by a girl, maybe

      February 23, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  12. TheJoer

    I bet most of those who are criticizing this young man's decision consider themselves to be "pro-choice".

    February 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  13. Acecool

    Sounds like he likes wrestling "boys" more than "girls". And very true, he is belittling her too!!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  14. LeeAnn

    Many boys at that age feel uncomfortable even talking to girls, let alone wrestling one! I would guess it had more to do with being raised a gentleman, or not wanting to get anywhere near her girly parts...probably less of a religious thing. Whatever the reason, it's really not a big deal.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  15. Marc J

    This is a tough one. In the end I have to side with the boy. We are not talking baseball or basketball here but an intimate contact sport. That's my take on it. It was brave on his part to refuse the match knowing what the aftermath would bring with mindless comment. MJY

    February 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Maddiecait

      Right on!

      February 23, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  16. lou50

    just spill the truth, he likes to use the bowling ball hold and was afraid she would follow him home after the contest.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  17. meva

    Good for her that she made State. I don't know where it says in the Bible that a man cannot engage a woman in sport. At any rate this story is a red herring.

    The real issue and disrespect women receive at the hand of men is spousal control and violence and unequal pay for equal work. If this guy wanted to honor women, he should have flown a banner that says husbands shall not hit wives and men shall not financially exploit women workers.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Maddiecait

      He's a teenager. Not a political activist. He made a decision for what was right for him and probably would prefer to be attending his youth group, working on grades, and getting back to life without the media and scrutiny of the media and left and right wing.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  18. Woman

    What is happening to american women is strange and wierd. Why do you want to be equal with men in everything? You simply can not. You have different body and different mind. Be proud of it. Showing your equality in physical strength is not sign of dignity, it is sign of not being wise. Way to go kid! You are much wiser than your society!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Paul

      Because we're progressive, and it's a damn good thing.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • AC

      And what if this girl could have beat him?

      February 23, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  19. Steven R

    It has nothing to do with being Christian! It says they believe that wrestling is a combat sport, so by that it also implies that women shouldn't be in the military as they are in combat! It's also the same belief that leads them to believe that women belong in the kitchen and yes those types are still around.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  20. andrew

    @Bob. That's your problem, you think. Lay off the thinking and perhaps you wont seem so foolish in your comments.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:27 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.