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. James

    In other news I had a bagel for breakfast and it was good. Why is this front page news?

    February 23, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • Your favorite Martian

      Oh come on!!!!!! Can't you do better than CNN....give us the whole story...what kind of bagel was it? Did you eat it with cream cheese, butter, jam....what?????????????

      February 23, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  2. LDizz

    He was just afraid that he was gonna get too aroused, which is especially embarassing in those singlets.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • Absolutely

      Absolutely. I'm sure his faith, and not wanting to lose to a girl entered into it, but c'mon... 15 yr old guy in tight clothes rubbing all over a girl... he's afraid he's gonna pop a chubb. It's not crude. It's the truth. She may not be a super model, but it's not like she's a troll.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • tuffyturf

      How dare you! Your reasoning is way off base. This young man was simply following the gospel and a kind word of warning from his priest which was- "There is no way you are going to wrestle and mount this young lady in compromising positions in a tight High School uniform before I do, get in line sonny!"

      February 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  3. oldguy


    February 23, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  4. jen

    Aside from the religious beliefs that prevented him from wresting the girl, just common decency would seem to dictate that there is just something inherently wrong with throwing a female to the ground with the potential of seriously hurting her.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  5. Peyton

    This is the last thing that should be on the front page of CNN, given everything going on.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  6. amac

    Wouldn't groping another guy be considered wrong if he is following his Christian beliefs?

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

    Boy, I love the calls for tolerance, but the second a Christian makes a stand for his or her beliefs, it's "game on" with the bashing. He had a conviction, and he made a decision based on that conviction. You don't have to agree with it, but give him credit for making a stand for something he believed in. That's more than most people would do.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • DoodleSheep

      Conviction means nothing if you're a moron. It's like being dedicated to your cause of sticking your finger in a light socket.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  8. Left leaning (despite considering myself moderate) male a few years older than this kid

    The headline of this story should be "highschooler manages to present a gracious, articulate, and all around stand-up response to a tough decision/situation, only to have his response chastised by a slew of self-righteous, 24-hour news anchors and their equally pathetic audience (liberal college students/overly judgmental stay-at-home retirees/the outright crazies)". Seriously, give the kid some credit for facing a tough situation like a human being, man or woman.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  9. oldguy

    Moderator: Are you asleep or stonewalling? My comment is far more rational, courteous and lucidly on-point than many of the comments that you let through without moderation.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  10. Reality

    One more time, wrestling and other non-life time sports should not be supported with tax dollars. Life-time sports like running, swimming and golf are also typically gender-neutral.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  11. Solomon

    The poor fellow was put in a "no win" situation. If he wins the match, he beat up a girl. If he loses to a girl; he is disgraced. Either way, there is no honor.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  12. Jimmy

    Praise God! Good Job Northrup! You did the right thing

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

      DIAF. The sooner, the better.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • Chuck

      Doodlesheep, you want someone to die in a fire because you don't agree with them? Please don't marry and have children; you'll ruin the lives of all of them!!

      February 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  13. Observer

    Interesting how the story is all about him. No comments or interview with her, though she was the one to advance. He does not "honor" her with his decision. He takes away her right to compete in her chosen sport. It's discrimination that every woman athlete has felt at least once in her life.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  14. Dave

    If he wanted to respect the girl as he says, he would wrestle her as she earned her spot there just like he did, and she is a willing participant. If she didn't want to do it, I'm pretty sure she wouldn't be there and then angry that he treated her this way. It's not like he decided not to drag a random girl to the ground while walking down the street. They were both there to wrestle! What the hell people. He can stand by his beliefs, but don't tell me he is "respecting" her here.

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

      Why is it so hard for some of you to actually respect another person's beliefs and his decision based on those beliefs? He didn't decide to blow up a building with people in it, fly a plane into a building, shoot someone, or start a war. He actually forfeited a match, which cost only him something, so have some respect and leave the kid alone. Wow, griping at a kid for trying to do right; what would you be saying if he hit someone in the head a robbed them? Probably not as much as you are over this......

      February 23, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  15. Brian

    Religion is an excuse! He didn't want to get beat by a female! Using his faith as an excuse is just that, an excuse. Wrestling females, getting out of jail, faith is an excuse for almost anything.


    February 23, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Dave

      because, of course, you have the inside track on his true motives, right? I mean, he couldn't possibly be standing by his convictions, right? Nah, we couldn't have that...

      February 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Honor and Dignity

      So it's apparent that stupidity is your excuse. We bash the youth for not having the courage to make the hard decisions and when one finally does, morons like you have to prove that adults can be idiots, too. His faith is irrelevent – he made a difficult, mature decision.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  16. Phil

    respectable. How many of us have listened to our conscience when we are forced to decide between that and material goals?

    February 23, 2011 at 11:09 pm |

    It seems like most of you are having a brain fart! So stupid and blind, all you want is win win win. This young man made a great decision showing how much he respects girls. I hope someone beats up your sisters the way you want this young man to beat that girl. You all dumb f&@k! He made a GREAT call. Ya'll find a way to fight for championship and then you decide to wrestle a girl.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  18. Chuck

    I can't believe that this is even an issue. In a day where women have had such strides in sport with hockey, basketball and so on they have achieved their own leagues and equal talent levels, without gender issues in the way it baffles me why women feel the need to be a part of men's sport. There can not be equality in sport when, like this boy, equal play is not applicable. If he grabbed her groin or breasts in wrestling he would be hear a chorus of boo's or if she lost she could blame it on grabbing the wrong area, and ultimately if changes and accommodations have to be made to the rules then it's not really equal is it. I would love to see the reaction of those that think women in men sports is acceptable like if I was to compete with women in women's sports, or....Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson (bad example), Randy Johnson, Beckham, Boris Becker and so on...how many women would be excited to see men dominate women's sport? Not many...same as men having to change the rules to make sport softer to accommodate women. Sport should not be a forum for women equality agendas....PERIOD!!!!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  19. Phil

    Perfectly respectable and honorable, merely the fact that this kid had the strength to sacrifice material goals in order listen to his conscience is something that we don't see in youth everyday. I applaud him, and hope he inspires confidence in others to do the same.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  20. 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 11:07 pm |
    • billy downey

      Where has common sense gone in the sports world concerning gender? It is too bad this kid had to deal with this choice. It was unfair fo ask him to wrestle a girl. We are different, you know, or havent the authorities noticed?

      February 23, 2011 at 11:25 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.