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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. Jen B

    I'm a woman that plays a "man's sport" (rugby), but in a women's league, and I have to say that I sympathize with this young man. In a real league game I wouldn't try to play with the guys either, because I know dang well that they would want to hold back when it came to some of the tackling and scrumming (it'd take me a whole other paragraph to explain what this is). I'm not dainty or delicate by any means, but I'm not 6ft/180 lbs + either. Wrestling involves even more physical contact with all the positioning and grabbing, and our culture both secular and non still tries to teach boys that they shouldn't be physically rough with women, which thus inevitably creates a mental handicap.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  2. oldguy

    Does anyone know? Is the moderator dead or what?

    February 23, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • JeffM

      What moderator? This is CNN. Hit the report abuse button if the post upsets you. If enough people agree, the post goes away.

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

      You don't have to have equality in everything for equality to mean anything. It's this kind of purest idealistic crap that causes all kinds of problems in people's lives, more than the lack of equality in some very specific situations, such as this one. Here you have guys that want to wrestle. They never signed up to wrestle with girls. They never trained for that. Yet, somehow anyone can change the rules whenever they want to suit their idealistic expectations. Some ideals only look good on paper. Some are best left on paper. Some are great. Whatever happened to respecting ourselves and our own intelligence? To say that equality is more important than the rules already in effect, is absurd. Equality by itself is meaningless post modern drivel. And it does more to harm other's in their respect of the concept of equality than it does to promote it the right way. Through consensus, and understanding. Not with a sledgehammer maneuver around some guy to make them understand. Aren't we beyond that point by now? I'm not saying she is wrong to want to wrestle. And I am not even saying they aren't equal, but come on?! It's the rules of the sport. You want to change them now? That's unfair, and it's most certainly wrong. If you want to change them, have a vote. Ask. Don't force it. Don't possibly ruin some guys dream to be a wrestler so everyone can be equal when physically, we just aren't born all the same.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  3. tuffyturf

    Man, boy did he miss out.. He could have sniffed her but, and got a handful of goodness...oh that is right, he is a Christian, and they do not do that..they only allow their priests to do that ..but only if the person is under the age of 10.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  4. Mousumi Dey

    Congratulations young man ! You have wonderful parents who have taught you great life values. May you continue to stand by your faith.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  5. atheist

    Well, removing things out of context usually leads to confusion. The idea of not being violent towards women has evolved a very long time ago, when strong violent men posed a serious threat to women and subsequently to the nuclear family strucutre, aka REPRODUCITION. It's funny how anything that has anything to do with reproduction has some sort of taboo or another. In this case, it's the taboo of being physically violent towards women. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea, i think its one of the most beautiful by-products of our evolution. Whether or not men should compete against women in contact sports is a different issue though, but it certainly shouldn't be brought out of historical context.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  6. Bo

    I wrestled in high school and there were women wrestlers I never went against any but it is about technique and stamina and strength for your size. You will wrestle someone that is within a couple pounds of your weight. And if youve made it into the state championships you know what your doing. Im sure it would've been a good match, I don't think he was afraid of losing, it's been a man's sport and many have a hard time with changing I think he was trying to make a statement

    February 23, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  7. nepawoods

    Any chance that losing to a girl would have been humiliating, and that this played a factor in the decision?

    February 23, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  8. Richard

    Anyone who has wrestled can respect this kid. The fact that the girl achieved a reasonably high level of success against boys is noteworthy and respectable, but that doesn't mean every boy will, or should, want to wrestle her. It's a bid odd, for one thing. And I do think he turned down the match for reasons of conscience, not because he thought he might lose. This is a tough young man, wrestling in a light weight class, who probably would have decked her pretty quick. By the way, has there been any female heavyweight high school wrestlers? Now that's what I want to see. Ka-Boom!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  9. Sam

    As much as I respect his choice, I have to agree that his decision doesn't help the view that we share of women. This isn't about him being afraid to lose the match, it is about the fact that this girl understood the terms of joining wrestling, and was denied the challenge. What use is an empty victory? I wouldn't want that, and I sincerely doubt that she would have either.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  10. jerry k

    i don't need a book of fairy tales to know that violence against women is unacceptable. Regardless, it's obvious this kid was scared of the possibility of losing to a girl.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  11. Anderson

    Jesus Freaks

    February 23, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  12. Semiahmoo

    Good for him. ††††††††††††††††††††††

    February 23, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  13. GeorgeN1

    Joel Northrup, I am proud of you. I think it is pathetic to expect from anyone what they expected from you and that in a wrestling contest. Well done and you made an excellent decision. Your decision appears to be way above the decision made by the organizers of this event. Well done Joel

    February 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  14. Ryan

    How cute, a 16-year-old misogynist. He robbed that girl.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  15. Greg

    Mr. Northrup must be so proud of his son. He said he left the decision up to Joel but, I believe Mr. Northrup knew what his son would decide. "Raise a child in the way they should go and they will not stray from it". Both father and son should be commendedfor a job well done. If more parents raised their children with these values the world would be a much better place.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Bobq

      What values?

      February 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  16. american me

    Northrup can come up with whatever excuses he wants, but the real reason is that he was obviously scared he was going to lose to Herkelman. Congratulations to Herkelman for her achievements.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • JJ

      I agree he was either afraid of loosing, getting excited , or the worst case he really is a male chauvinist that thinks a woman's only role is to be having babies and making dinner.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  17. Amanda Heatherington

    I have the utmost respect for this young man who has unfortunately uncommon moral standards and respect for women. He has set a standard that many, if not most, young men will not seek to meet. My hat's off to you young man. I pray that your life will continue to honor your God and your Savior as well as honoring your fellow man. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2

    February 23, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • kirk

      i agree amanda i agree
      god bless him the lord sees the heart and his sacrifice will be rewarded

      February 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Greg

      Amanda- That verse is a perfect fit. Thank you.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Your favorite Martian

      So what's it going to be....equality or not?

      February 23, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  18. Pat

    Not worthy of top headline news.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  19. oldguy

    moderator: WAKE UP !

    February 23, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  20. ZJJ

    I respect the kid for his decision, however I have 2 major problems with his reasoning.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:16 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.