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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. Toni

    For those who say this isn't a story one must assume it's because no one died, was molested, held against their will, had battery acid tossed in their face, or basically involved in some kind of train wreck. Personally, I need a good story like this to take my mind the "Constand Negative News" that greets me everytime I come to the CNN site.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  2. catsrulz

    there is the biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity,” Jamie Northrup saidthere is the biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity,” Jamie Northrup said. Isnt it by not wrestling her showing disrespect for this yng lady. I also would like to see her view on this not just a one sided story

    February 23, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  3. john

    I have wrestled most of my life and would certainly prefer not to wrestle a female in a live match. Teaching is different. Wrestling isn't like basketball, baseball or even football. It is body to body contact the whole time and the higher level you are the more you try to win, even if that means inflicting pain to improve position. I think it is this girl's right to wrestle but there should be a separation of boys & girls at a HS level and higher for numerous reasons.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  4. Randoms

    It has been pointed out the kid is living out his personal beliefs and I agree, he should make his own decisions. I would normally provide my 0.02 worth on bible thumpers and how they have a need to follow like sheep, but IMO, the kid has a valid moral stance. I wouldn't slam a girl on the mat. I wouldn't care about accidently groping her though. My thoughts...

    February 23, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  5. Sideshow

    I praise the young lad's noble convictions.

    However, America had no problem with Any Kaufman wrestling women!

    Anything for entertainment in America!

    We need more young people like Joel Northrup who have a sense of morals, who know what is right and what is just dead wrong!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Fred M.

      And if you're home-schooled, then don't sign up for a tournament that allows women, blacks, gays, or any other group that you choose to discriminate against.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  6. bretherite

    My oldest wrestled kid wrestling up until age 11. I remember the hardest match for him was against a girl. She was new to the sport and he was ranked 6th in the nation so he should have beat her. He got beat in the first round. His coach asked him when he walked off the mat what happened. My son's response? "Coach I didn't know where to put my hands!!!" It is an awkard situation for kids to be in. My son had been taught to be respectful of girls and was really conflicted. It was a very hard postion for a young man to be in. I am all for equal rights but I understand where this young man was coming from.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Frogist

      @bretherite: And what did his coach tell your son? Hopefully it was "Put them the same place you put them when you wrestle another boy." Not to be harsh, because your comment definitely was insightful to me, but your son lost his match because he took his eye of the ball so to speak. He lost concentration and forgot his training. And the only person to blame in that situation is the boy, not the girl who kept her concentration and won. I appreciate what you said about boys being uncomfortable around girls at that age, but it doesn't justify Joel's comments or his justifications. If he really was just uncomfortable, his religion should have taught him that it's better to be honest about that than stick to a se-xist lie.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  7. smee

    I wonder how much him worrying about getting beat by a girl weighed into his decision. Surely that would have crosses his mind and all the groping and bible crap aside, getting beat by a girl would have been the hardest problem for him to deal with.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • andy

      Amazing how you know for a fact how this boy feels. Got some winning lottery ticket numbers for us too, genius?

      February 23, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  8. chasemeboo

    Girls should wrestle Girls. PERIOD. I admired this young man's convictions. Apparently, his family values have taught him well. However, why does a girl want to wrestle a boy? Are there any girl wrestling leagues? If not, there should be to accomodate such stupid girls like this.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • CDK

      This is offensive. She's not stupid for wanting to be involved in this sport; it's a fun sport!

      "Why do girls want to wrestle boy?" In my experience, they don't. They want to participate in this sport and aren't thinking gender at all. And just because there aren't any (or very, very few) female wrestling leagues shouldn't mean she can't compete.

      As far as his values? If he would be uncomfortable, good for him for knowing himself. But please don't condescend to female wrestlers and the men who train with / compete against us that we're all somehow morally deviant. If people could grow up a little, it wouldn't be an issue. It would be a sport.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • JOregon

      I don't think she is a "stupid" girl. She wants to wrestle.
      I do think maybe it should be promoted more as a girls sport too. I agree they should have their own league.
      This seems to be the only sport where girls have to compete with boys.
      Swimming – divided
      Basketball – divided
      Track – divided
      Soccer – divided
      Wrestling – Coed
      Seems kind of weird.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • hillytoo

      Hey Oregon – maybe they will make all wrestling co-ed when us girls move over and let them compete in syncronized swimming!

      February 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  9. mad guy

    this kid is a joke.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  10. the_dude

    Good decision dude. It's a lose – lose situation for the young dude no matter what some frisco hipster says.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  11. mark

    I agree with his decision not to wrestle her. If he loses, it's to a girl. If he wins, it's against a girl. No-win situation.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  12. GREG

    Violence against women is universally condemned. There are violence against women groups, womens days and various other things to raise womens issues, one of which is violence. The fact that a girl was allowed into a violent tournament tournament is unfair to the men. The men would be condemned if they hurt the women so it is not fair. What would the story be is there was a womens tournament and a man wanted to enter?

    February 23, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Cason

      It's called cheerleading.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Christine G

      @Carson,
      There are male cheerleaders on female cheer squads.

      February 24, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  13. Jay

    This isn't a story, CNN.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Igor

      The true story is that troll Jay found a bugger in his nose.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  14. bob

    A commend the boy for speaking up and sticking to his beliefs. Just because you or I may not agree with those beliefs, doesn't mean they're wrong.

    Honestly, not sure how I would react, in his shoes. I know I'd never hit a woman, or intentionally injure them in any way... but as a sporting event that's regulated and watched over, for which she signed up ...

    I dunno. all the more credit to Jesse for knowing.

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

    I wrestled in High School and admit that wrestling a girl is awkward, especially at that age with puberty and hormones going crazy. Also, I could never completely cross-face a girl or dig my chin into the center of a girls back or completely bear down with all my might with an arm/headlock; just doesn't seem right. I agree it's not completely fair of me to say this, but it just doesn't seem right. Women (in general) aren't designed for physical strength, whereas guys have testosterone running in their system which results in more strength. In HS, I was indestructible.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • The Great Awk

      Stop! You are getting me all excited!

      February 25, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  16. BB

    I have conversed with several Muslim women who would not even touch a man, even a friendly handshake is as they have said, "Against their religion". Wrestling a girl is not "against this kids religion", he is simply making a decision based on what he believes is best and most reflects his respect and appreciation for women. I commend him!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  17. Ada

    The issue isn't whether he would win or lose. The issue is the compromising positions in which he might find himself. If this teenager doesn't feel comfortable touching a girl in certain ways, then he absolutely should not wrestle her. It's unfortunate that he would be placed in that situation. There should be separate leagues for girls' wrestling, similar to how it is in other sports. Kudos to him for sticking with his beliefs.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  18. Shamus

    All you fools who put this kid down really need to take a good look at yourselves. He's far more a man than any of you because he stood by his beliefs and had the character and integrity to stand up to your stupid, ignorant, childish comments. He had every right to take a stand to not wrestle females, just as the young woman had every right to take a stand to wrestle males. It is his business what he bases his opinions on and, as an American, he has every right just as all you fools had the right to put him down. But he is the bigger man.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  19. KN

    Ok, so I agree(somewhat) that he made a good decision to not wrestle a girl. But why bring religion into this!? Do they REALLY need the bible to tell them its wrong for something as simple as to not hit/fight with a girl? What if this wasn't in the bible at all, would he have decided to wrestle her then? Its so moronic to think that because its in the Bible, fighting girls is wrong. NO. There are a bunch of other horrible things in the Bible a non-brainwashed person wouldn't do because its immoral. Please, be able to think for yourself.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • mrcabdriver

      He brought religion into it because that was his reason, Its his belief and it does not matter what you, I or anyone else thinks.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • JOregon

      Because he did it for religious reasons based on the bible not touching a girl in a compromising position. Respecting women. You know biblical principles many seem to not know about.
      – You need to learn to think for yourself, instead of spewing anti-religion hate at the drop of a hat.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Alana

      Why do people feel those who follow the Bible must be brainwashed or are not thinking for themselves? They make the choice to follow. It really doesn't have anything to do with you, so I am not sure why it concerns you.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Buggaboo

      I don't get why they even asked him he should have said I don't want to wrestle a girl and left it at that. I wrestled in highschool and they used to hand us a form before the season that would ask us if we would wrestle a girl if it was needed we could check yes or no. If we said no our coach would forfeit the match and we would not have to justify anything to anyone about our decision. I think the biggest tragedy of this story is that he was put in a position where he had to give a justification irregardless of what it was.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Papa Joe

      Wow really? Did you not read the part that says there is no bible verse telling him not to wrestle her but that it’s the underlining belief system he was taught through his belief system. Why does it matter that the belief is from a religious standpoint the fact is that he did the right thing. The fact that she was in the state finals says that most boys don’t fill this way. Most boys wrestled her because today’s liberal society says that they are equal. He stood strong and that’s commendable.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Da King

      It's plane to see that you think for yourself.

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

      Why is it so difficult for people to understand the difference between "hitting a girl" and participating in a sport with a girl?! First of all, you shouldn't be hitting anyone! Violence is a last resort. And whether it's a boy or girl stomping on you, if they are hurting you, it's damn well ok to fight back.
      Secondly, wrestling in the state championship with a ref and weight division, is not random violence. It's a sport and they are both compet!tors. They know the rules and what is expected and they are equally matched.
      Wrestling with a girl is to "hitting a girl" AS soccer is to kicking someone in the baIIs.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  20. Andrettianna

    I don't give a flip about this little boy's morality stance, Why didn't CNN report what the girl's position was? I want to know know how this affected her too.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Buggaboo

      they did the other day

      February 23, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • eldono

      It sounds like she didn't care. She wanted to wrestle. Its too bad the boys parents reared him to be so afraid of girls.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • juan del pueblo

      This is the kind of kid I want around my own kids. Convictions and respect for women.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • realworld

      The kid takes it for granted that he would have won. Although he had a good record at that point, 35-4, at his weight, 112, victory was not a given just because she was female. He is home schooled; his parents would do him a favor by exposing him more to the world around them.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • JOregon

      As I understand her father has a lot of respect for the young man.
      I don't see why others don't respect him too.
      A lot of guys would have wrestled her just to grope.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • GirlyMAN

      She's still a virgin, I checked...

      February 23, 2011 at 8:22 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.