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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. Cory

    afraid to lose to a chick?

    February 23, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  2. AnonObserver

    What has Christian convictions got to do with a high school wrestling match? If you are better than your opponent and don’t make any mistakes, you should win. If your opponent is better s/he should win. If you are equal then it is a matter of making no mistakes and a little luck. The match is not a gladiatorial battle during which someone dies. Tomorrow, or the day after, both wrestler-students have to go back to school.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • Carl

      Christian belief go far beyond a "wrestling" mat. It is a way of life, a faith in the fact that we are only hear on this earth for a short time, then with faith in God our Father, we will spend eternity in Heaven.

      As far as Christian faith, nothing is more important.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • charles s

      Joel has his beliefs and he has the right to stick to them. Wrestling is the most physical of sports. Too many profess beliefs but do not follow them. Joel will become an honorable man and that is truly important. Too many give lip service to religious belief but do not follow them. Good for him.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • Mike

      Zero offense intended to the kid, but he's very obviously gay. It's cool 50%+ of the population is on board with it. It may go against your parents teachings and beliefs but they're small minded. Come out with it, dude. Live free, live gay!

      Seriously though, fess up to it and move on with life, there are wondrous things in store for us all in the future. I wish you all the best.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  3. Gypsy

    What a bunch of baloney! So, it's okay to go ahead and not treat a "man" with "respect and dignity"? What?

    The bottom line is that he chickened out and was afraid of getting his butt kicked by a girl and having his friends rub his face in it.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  4. RobinMO

    We'll never know his true motive; I learned many years ago not to take at face value excuses based on religion. I suspect he was afraid he would lose to a girl.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  5. Dave

    Man religion is out of control, this pansy obviously wants a "woman" who's gonna be barefoot and pregnant, good luck with your life.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  6. kamikaze

    The real reason he didn't want to wrestle her was because he might actually lose to a female. What a gutless wimp.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  7. Awesome

    Nice... God will lift you for your faithfulness boy.... I am impressed by your commitment to Jesus and christian faith... good luck...

    February 23, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  8. Tobi

    His prejudice = his loss.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  9. David

    I wrestled in high school and we had two women on our team. Everyone was very professional... no problems. Frankly, forfeiting was disrespectful to the female wrestler. She was there to wrestle and wanted nothing more than to be treated as an equal. I'm sure she was offended by the gesture... and he also hurt his team by scoring a loss. I say grow up, be professional and leave religion outside the wring.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  10. Chief Gimmeeback

    The question is, What would Mickey Rourke have done?

    February 23, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  11. Rasslin' Coach

    It's not REAL RASSLIN'!!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  12. wohcurgk

    Bottom line was he was afraid to he lose to a girl, which would be demeaning to his masculinity.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  13. Iron-e

    this does NOT deserve front page coverage CNN, come on...

    February 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  14. Roxanne

    YO MODERATOR WAKE UP!!!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  15. oldguy

    What's wrong with you CNN? You let the following through without moderation: "He could have sniffed her but, and got a handful of goodness", but you can't print my respectful comment?

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

    He doesn't deserve to have win. His cowardly decision to not wrestler her was really because he was afraid to lose to a girl. Cassy Herkelman must have been really good to get to that position. Good for her!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • Kevin

      Like I just replied to in a post, she had one of the worst records at state, and many of those times she "won" were by forfeit. Good for her?

      February 23, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • john

      looks more like he is a man. I bet youd beat up a woman anyday. Might wanna think before you speak.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  17. JeffM

    Clever... he gets to look like the chivalrous gentleman while simultaneously not having to risk losing to a girl. Also, he disrespects her as a wrestler and an opponent by choosing to forfeit.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • Jen B

      Because he would be respected so much if he beat her. It's a lose/lose situation.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • Kevin

      "Clever... he gets to look like the chivalrous gentleman while simultaneously not having to risk losing to a girl. Also, he disrespects her as a wrestler and an opponent by choosing to forfeit"
      No, I don't think he was worried about losing to her. This kid was one of the best in the state and predicted by many to win it. The girl had one of the worst records in the tournament and "won" several matches during the season by forfeit. If you actually read the article, he isn't wrestling her out of respect to her, not because he disrespects her.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  18. trapper

    Agree- why is this "news". It's soft news at best. This type of situation happens all the time. The male is in a tough position. If he wins, he's beating a girl, if he loses, he's lost to a girl. No way to come out of it ok. What were her qualifications to be wrestling in the state tournament. She had to have won a number of matches to qualify. She has the right to participate and he has the right to forfeit. Nothing earth shattering here...

    February 23, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • beezus

      Don't like it? don't read it, nothing earth shattering here either.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • Jacob

      Its "news" because a lot of people have strong opinions about it. CNN (although great most of the time) is, at the end of the say, still a business.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  19. N.

    A thorough Gentleman indeed.. Hard to find such 'classy' young men these days. Hats off, the world needs more of your kind!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  20. billy bebop

    'hey joe' and others trying to make the case that they boy and girl are physically equals: no, they are likely not. You are almost assuredly wrong. Girls generally have smaller shoulder girth and less explosive muscle power. If it were true that girls and boys in the same weight class had the same physical strength, you would see more girls competing at higher levels.

    Re the christian and religion bashing, when are we going to realize that anyone can do about anything in the name of religion, from extreme evil to extreme charity. Someone saying they're a member of a certain religion doesn't tell me much. They could be mother theresa or muhammed atta. The individuals actions will tell you much more about someone's character, and it looks to me like this is a good kid. Get off his back and get a life.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • Mike

      Zero offense intended to the kid, but he's very obviously gay. It's cool 50%+ of the population is on board with it. It may go against your parents teachings and beliefs but they're small minded. Come out with it, dude. Live free, live gay!

      Seriously though, fess up to it and move on with life, there are wondrous things in store for us all in the future. I wish you all the best.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:53 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.