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. mr underbocky

    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.....

    I realize this boy is only a child, properly controlled by his dogmatic teachings, but please son, educate thyself....

    But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." (I Corinthians 11:3)
    "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." (I Corinthians 11:8-9)
    "Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." (I Timothy 2:11-14)
    "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." (Ephesians 5:22-24)
    "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." (I Corinthians 14:34-35)
    "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." (Genesis 3:16)

    February 23, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  2. Lisa

    Why is this a cover story with all the major news events today?

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

      Agree this is stupid and not news

      February 23, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  3. Jayb

    hahah this is such a joke. the truth: he was afraid to get defeated by a girl and he's looking for a scapegoat. even Jesus is probably thinking "what a chump"

    February 23, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  4. David Bustamante

    This young man is to be commended for standing up for his convictions. He's more of a man at such a young age than many more that make the news these days.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  5. arch

    I think the young man made a good decision. I'm surprise the girl's parents agree with letting her be involved in this sport. I wonder what lib group would be the first to start yelling or screaming when the girl or boy made a move that involved grabbing the crotch area! The boy is showing some class whereas, the girl seems to be enjoying this event.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  6. Verimius

    Northrup used the word "Christian". This causes a certain segment of the population to go all gooey-brained and stop thinking.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • drchris

      No – being "Christian" makes you gooey-eyed and stop thinking

      February 23, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  7. Moi

    He is just afraid that she would beat him.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  8. Sadie

    God or no God.
    Democrat or Republican.
    Black or White.
    Good or Bad.
    With onions or without.
    The fact: Boys should not be put in the position of having to throw a girl down. THAT is NOT true sports. That is truly stupid.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  9. james6024

    My hat is off to the young man. Setting aside the vitriol and ridiculous comments this young man stood by values, ideals and principles that gave him strength no matter what doctrine. His strength, determination and indomitable spirit is worthy of respect regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees. Congratulations Mr. Northrup for standing up for your values.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  10. bugdad

    I don't get it. During the inquisition God said to kill millions of women. Now he says don't wrestle with 'em. Wish "He" would make up his mind.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  11. Nick

    I too, have had to face a female wrestler at a high-school level. I accepted the first time, defeated the girl quickly, and then felt as if it was wrong to wrestle her in the first place. I agree with his decisions regarding "violence towards women". Even though she is choosing to put herself in harm's way, the boy has the right idea in that men shouldn't be slamming, throwing or pinning women, no matter the situation. Please tell me what you think about my opinion, thanks!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  12. Zeeba

    I don't know about the boy, but if I were that girl, I would feel cheated out of working so hard to get to the state finals and having the last match forfeited...

    February 23, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • JanetMermaid

      I agree. He may claim that he made his decision "out of respect" for her but he obviously didn't consider what SHE wanted and what would have made her FEEL respected.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  13. Nowhere Man

    A strong, thoughtful decision. The young man is the ultimate winner.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  14. Dave

    Is this covered by the purity ring?

    February 23, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  15. Walter

    It is the 21st century and by now we should all have learned that showing a woman respect is treating her as an equal. I can understand his apprehension, but the right thing to have done, as hard and awkward as it may have seemed, is to have wrestled her with the same effort and conviction as he would any other male. Regardless of the outcome, defeat or victory, the result would have been legitimate. He deprived her of a chance for a legitimate victory, and that is sad.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • bugdad

      I second that. It is essentially saying that women will never be equal to men. So take that, girl.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Danielle

      Thank you. I think it's disrespectful to the girl; she comes all the way to the state tournament and doesn't even get to compete? If he really respected her he would have wrestled. She's on the team, she obviously knows that this is a contact sport, that's what she signed up for. And I'm sure she her school doesn't have a girl's wrestling team, so she really has no other option than to compete with boys. I would've liked to hear how she felt about it.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  16. Paul

    Unbelievable. He is threatened by this girl and doesn't feel she should be in the same league has he. If he can't face the fact that he has to compete against women, then leave the sport and any sport that faces men against women. Maybe he shouldn't swim against a women either. I'm sure he thinks this girl should stay at home and knit or something rather then play a "mens" sport. He should be removed from the team. What a coward.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Randomquips

      He doesnt want to compete in a violent manner against women. Wrestling can get violent, even when the rules are followed to a T. Swimming isn't even close to a contact sport. How can you honestly compare them. I wouldn't compete against a girl either, even if she was a foot shorter and fifty pounds lighter (not that she'd be in the same weight class). At that point, it's not about winning, it's just not a situation many guys would want to be in.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Trevor

      This young man is the farthest thing from a coward. It took a lot of guts to stand up for what he believed in knowing full well he was subjecting himself to public ridicule.

      You are an incredibly shallow individual. Would you take a girl down and litereally grab her in numerous places in front of thousands of people?

      February 23, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  17. Jerome

    If that'd been me I would have tried to freak that booty!

    February 23, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • George

      That's what I been saying!

      February 23, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  18. George

    I respect this young man for not wanting to put the girl into a "compromising position", but wouldn't the Bible also consider it a sin if he put another boy in a similar "compromising position". I think he may be overreacting to what people think about wrestlers. Most people assume that wrestlers are going to wrestle, which involves close contact and grappling. I think there's more to this issue than was said by the boy: I think he may have been afraid she would defeat him, and he didn't want the embarassment.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  19. horf

    I teach fencing to boys and girls. It's a combat sport just like wrestling. I teach and expect both the boys and girls I teach to fight hard and respectfully. I don't see how playing by the rules could be disrespectful to either gender.

    Wait, I got it. It's not that he isn't comfortable grabbing a girl, it's uncomfortable for a girl to grab him.

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

      But you dont slam/pin/grapple people in fencing.

      February 23, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  20. Ames Wolff

    I admire this young man's decision.

    February 23, 2011 at 10:56 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.