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. YBP

    This bit about religion is foolish. Children at this age do NOT have enough education or a realistic and informed worldview to profess to be religious. Just as they are not experienced enough to choose a politcial party. It's entirely absurd. Children don't have genuine religious and political convictions. They believe whatever grown-ups tell them to believe, and they repeat it like parrots. They are blank slates until they are about 30. It used to be 20, but these days, it's 30. Perhaps closer to 40.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Commoncents

      Have you ever had a conversation for more than 5 minutes with any young person under the age of 18? Obviously not from your ignorant comment.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • KLR

      YBP,that is the problem, people like you keep under estimating the intelligence of children. You have no clue what this kid knows and some children do have their own thoughts and deserve to be taken seriously.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Wtvs

      I'm not sure if you have kids or not but my son is a freshman in high school and believe it or not has his own brain and own thoughts and own feelings. Teenagers go the opposite way of what their parents want them to do and say, this is nothing new. So what if he was raised in a church, maybe he does go every Sunday and every other day they have service, Most people are raised not to fight (or wrestle) with girls/women and maybe he was ACTUALLY taught to respect them, you don't know that he's not religious.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • RxCello

      YBP, you are absolutely right. To say a youth/child is "Christian" or "Muslim" or "Jewish" or whatever is a bunch of bunk, and just perpetuates the tyranny of religion inflicted on so many people. You can have a child of a Christian (or Muslim, or Jew, etc.), but to say that the child is Christian is ludicrous. Give the child the opportunity to learn about religions - AND atheism - and to think rationally, and then let the child decide what he or she wishes to believe and disbelieve. Sadly, so many children never have the opportunity, being inculcated in their parents' religion without ever having a voice in the matter.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • crazyvermont

      I hope you don't have any children as you have no concept of their ability to form values and decisions.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • JCinTX

      You are mistaken. This boy is in high school. I was 16 when I made my decision to accept Chriist and asked to be baptized. (I was not raised in a religious home. My father would made a habit of slamming doors in missinaries' faces if they made the mistake of visiting our house.) It was the same with a lot of the kids in my youth group. My stepson did the same at 16. You don't have to be an adult to make your own decisions about your beliefs.

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

      i think you sound completely ignorant to say that children his age are uneducated and uniformed. To say the we dont know enough to pick a political party or have religious at all is dumb. im 17 and ive met adults that cant even amount up to be able to do anything you said. i know enough that religion is retarded in the first place and shouldnt be the way it is. but thanks for lumping "all children" together with the ones that watch jersey shore and are reckless idiots. and go shove that parrot up ur ass

      February 23, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Jacob

      Are you kidding? This is the most self-absorbed comment I've ever seen. I think you're a bitter person who has retreated so far inside yourself that you refuse to acknowledge the fact that, yes, there may be a person out there who has enough guts to stand up for what they believe in. Personally, I think you feel inferior to a generation who is going to make more advancements and face more challenges then your generation did. As I'm currently working on an assignment for an advanced government class at a catholic high school, I won't continue, but I'll have you know that religious convictions aren't something held exclusively by older, admittedly more experienced people, but by all who profess a belief in religion. The conviction may or may not be firm; nevertheless, it exists.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • Jesj

      You definitely haven't spoken to kids below 18 years... they would articulate ideas and make decisions better than u ur self..

      for u to say that labelling children as "Christians", "Jewish" or "Muslims" is a bunch of bunk... I wud like to add to label children as "Atheist" or even for that matter as "unreligious" is a bunch of junk....!!

      February 23, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Mike

      "im some dumas$ kid who cant spell or punctuate." You're proving the point kiddos.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  2. oldguy

    C'mon, moderator. Do your job. My comment is absolutely to the point and respectfully stated. Get it into the comments so others can understand what the base issue is in this story.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  3. Rich

    Why take a woman down off of her pedestal and make her an equal?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  4. Peter E

    Damn! Lawyers can't get money off of the families or officials! Another missed opportunity to cash in on feigned offense!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  5. Bitter Bierce

    I'm sorry, but the kid isn't standing up for his personal beliefs...he's parroting his misguided parents' beliefs. He didn't come up with this idea on his own...Whether or not that's skippy is up to you, but don't claim it's his personal beliefs. In my opinion by claiming it's related to Christianity he's as bad as Muslims who claim their treatment of women is related to the Quran when a lot of that is covered in the Hadith....or what people said AFTER the Quran was written. Last I read the Bible says nothing about wrestling with women...and if it did I'd ask myself if anything had changed in the last thousand and change years.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  6. frank farter

    He quit the state tournament because he is Christian? Somebody refresh our memories, is it in the New or Old Testament that God says boys shouldn't wrestle girls in high school tournaments? Sounds like he was just afraid to lose. If he were any good, he would have gone out and pinned her in a few seconds to put her in her place, then moved on.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  7. Justina

    Joel is a true hero. May God bless America because of people like him!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  8. DC_92656

    OMG! Enough is enough. There are sports for women and sports for men ... separation of sports, much less, quite a few other areas as well, is not only necessary, but, frankly, common sense .... this necessity of one gender attempting, they think, of bridging a gap with the other, has gone way overboard ... equality, within the workforce, is sufficient ... beyond that, is ridiculous ...

    February 23, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  9. Chelle

    The bible teaches stoning women too, so, I don't know what Christianity has to do with it. Oh, and what about all those massacres of men, women and children. Puhlease.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • Trevor

      You clearly don't know your bible. One of the most famous paraboles in the bible is Jesus stopping a woman from being stoned after she committed adultry.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  10. Brutuscz

    All religious stuff aside, I feel bad for this young man. As an athlete, it is simply difficult for a man to compete 100% against a woman. It is hard to give all you have against a female athlete. If you beat her...you were expected too, and you just beat a girl. If you lose...you are a laughing stock to other teenagers. Either way...you do not come out of the match feeling good. It really would be better, in a sport like wrestling, if each gender competed against their own. If you picked a sport without that direct physical contact....such as swimming or running, then I would say let the girls compete if they like. With something like wrestling or boxing...it is simply unfair to the boys.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  11. Anthony

    Why is this on the front of CNN.com?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  12. Jacson

    As I former high school wrestler, I can tell you it would indeed be very awkward to wrestle a girl. Fact is, wrestling involves lots of grabbing, sometimes in sensitive areas, and a High School kid (especially a conservative-leaning kid) would of course be uncomfortable. If you've ever stepped onto the mat, you understand.

    And for those of you trying to point out the kid must "like" grabbing guys but not girls...come on out of mom's basement every once and a while.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  13. LOL

    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,”

    Yes. Scripture stating things like "A man will not go near a woman when she is on her period." There's also stuff like "Disobedient children shall be stoned to death," and "a man who works on Sunday shall be put to death." Don't believe this? Read the bible. I tell you it's in there. It's in the same chapter as "A man shall not lie with another man."

    February 23, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • L.A.W.

      You need to be careful which version of the Bible you are choosing to use as a source- what you are claiming is quoted from the Bible is completely incorrect and is nothing close to what I read in my Bible (which version is in the purest form with least amount of translations).
      True Christians have moral standards. That means a boy is not going to want to be in compromising positions with a girl. This is known as DECENCY. I don't know why people cannot understand that.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  14. Nelson

    If it was my son, I wouldn't let him wrestle unless the girl signed a complete, ironclad release of any possible claims against the boy.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  15. YBP

    Wouldn't having adolescent boys and girls wrestle together eventually lead to an embarrassing moment or two? What on earth is the problem with the adult supervision here? What a bunch of idiots.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • question

      totally agree

      February 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  16. sunil philip

    great job bro for the stance ,thank you for the decision

    February 23, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  17. Al Win

    I don't think this "Boy" is all there. She is obviously in same weight class, otherwise I don't think they would be put up against each other. AND She has already proved that she can wrestle b/c she wouldn't be in the state championships if she wasn't good at it. Joe is obviously scared and would lose...just sayin. I know JOE WILL wrestle a female in a later date. This situation yes, he would not wrestle her. In the future, senior year, despite what he has already said that he wouldn't do it, if he was put up against another woman for the state championship and a full scholarship to his college of choice, yeah he would. Wait...even a partial scholarship...Yeah he definitely will in this economy. Cannot keep running away from obstacles.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Jacson

      You, my friend, are a babbling idiot. Turn it off and go to bed.

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

      I think the young man stood up for what he believed was right. He has convictions which is what so many people in the world today do not have.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • jimbob joe

      He was simply scared.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  18. Scott A

    I wouldn't ever see a reason to be a part of a religion where women are second class and considered worthy of only being left in the home. Civilization has moved on to being more progressive and caring – its time this kid's religion and his family do the same Or at least stay out of organized sports and other public events if you can't handle being around diversity. Its pretty tough not to be thought as backward if you're preaching in 2011 that women are less than equal.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • mcmom

      Did you even read the article? Who said anything about them believing women are 2nd class and have to stay in the home?? He said he believed in treating women with such respect and honor not to do things to her that would compromise THEIR convictions. So now people are slammed for wanting to honor others??? Geez!

      February 23, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • Bitter Bierce

      I'd like to honor McMom by refusing to hear her lower herself to respond in this forum. She really is above this, so I refuse to listen to anything she says. Thank you.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • Chuck

      “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.” I see no indication of treating women as second class. If anything he is placing them on a pedestal.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Bitter Bierce

      So the bible doesn't claim that men should treat other men with respect and dignity and not slam them on the wrestling mat?

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

      "not do things that would compromise THEIR convictions" really???? Her conviction was to WRESTLE. He "compromised" he choice, her conviction, and her individuality.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • jimbob joe

      The Bible is irrelevant. period ...

      February 23, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • mcmom

      Cason, did you read the article? Where did it say she was no longer able to wrestle? It said she still advanced. It didn't change her life one way or the other. It did not affect her life in any way. She still got to wrestle. I'm just appalled that a young boy cannot make a decision to not only be respect another person, but to also be true to his own convictions (especially when they hurt NO ONE else) and get slammed for it. Have we sunk that far?

      February 23, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • mcmom

      Bitter, you need to get off here. You are completely ridiculous and have nothing to add to this conversation. I can see why you are self-proclaimed bitter. It oozes from your posts as does your ignorance.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  19. He's Right

    He was right. I think that women are every bit the equal of men, but I wouldn't want to see a man boxing a woman nor a guy wrestling a woman. What happens if she gets hurt. So what would you folks do if you saw a guy beating the crap out of his girlfriend, even if they were the same size. WOuld you say that men and women are equal to it's okay. I wouldn't.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • MT

      No, he's not. This is a sport not a street fight. If I see ANY two people beating each other in the street I would stop it.

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

      Your comparison doesn't hold! This girl chooses to compete... she is aware of the risks and willing to accept the consequences of her choice. If she gets hurt, she is no more and no less responsible than any young man wrestling would be for his own injuries. A woman being beaten by a boyfriend/spouse is totally different; she hasn't chosen to be abused, and is probably facing emotionalpsychological barriers to leaving, as well as the physical abuse.

      In the end, this young man's decision insults his opponent's freedom to choose her own path. While I respect the conviction he shows, I think it perfectly appropriate to call into question the belief system that supports such convictions, a belief system that does in fact generally put women in a subordinate position to men. It's time Christians took a slightly more critical look at the results of their beliefs. Updating certain social standards and behaviors doesn't negate belief in God. Respecting one another as true equals doesn't debase proper values.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • jimbob joe

      im in agreement with JT

      February 23, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  20. Chang

    A woman who makes it this far in the state tournament is more than capable of holding her own ground. It doesn't show disrespect if you wrestle a woman. But disrespect is shown if you do something like this. Still, this kid has solid resolve in his ideals and I respect that.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • blt502

      Assuming of course she got to the state tournament because all of her wins were from other wrestlers that forfeited their matches. This single incident was reported because it was the state tournament. You don’t hear about all of her other "wins". See this is why girls should wrestle girls, boys wrestle boys, then your wins do not have a * next to them.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:57 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.