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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. kevinb

    yeah, what a load of bulloney. One, he was afraid to lose to a girl, two, violence is violence regardless of gender, third, the bible doesn't say that women should not compete with men. Obviously this family does not believe that women are equal to men. Fail.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  2. american me

    He 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 11:46 pm |
  3. Uncle Spazmodious

    Golly, does this mean guys and start participating with women in their sports? Sign me up for some beach volleyball!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  4. die

    i don't mind respecting his value. i can understand why the situation would draw so much attention, but in the end, it's not really a big deal, and should be accepted.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  5. Bono Theism

    "the biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity"

    Just a pet peave of mine, but "biblical Christian", come on! Just come out and say "Hebrew" you silly folks. I'm a Christian myself, but whenever I mention the scripture, I acknowledge who originally wrote it.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  6. Will

    Fu`ck Jesus

    February 23, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  7. doob

    What's a girl doing wrestling anyway? Shouldn't she be in home economics or something more feminine?

    February 23, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  8. Mike W

    Do these people really need a book to tell them that women (or anyone for that matter) should be treated with dignity and respect? I hope that even in a world without Christianity people would still respect other people. I absolutely hate that the backwards overly religious people in our country need to quote the bible when common sense should be justification enough.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  9. b

    "Christian convictions"? Let see, Jesus said if someone hits you turn the other cheek. If they go to hit you again offer them your other cheek (read your bible). Yet so many "christians" out there take part in violence. Wrestling is a form of fighting, that means Jesus would be against it. Also, I don't remember reading anything in the bible that said 'thou shalt not hit a girl'. In fact, I remember when I was a kid and listening to our pastor basically justify abuse of wife & kids at the father's hands because the bible says the family must be obedient to the father (and it does say that about the obedience part). This is yet another of many reasons why I escaped from the false prophet "christian" religion.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  10. Alan

    I'm sure he was super afraid to lose. I'm also sure that religion has nothing to do with this but something that he's using to make him self look good for the public like all Christians! Am i right?!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  11. lordpet

    I like wresting with girls.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  12. Nick

    WOW, all i heard was im scared to lose to a girl

    February 23, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  13. mm

    That kid is a coward and a quitter. The real story is Cassy Herkelman. She must have been tough to have gotten to the finals. Congratulation to her!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Andy

      Do a little research her record was average. He was the star, unfortunately he developed some misguided value set about boys and girls. If he goes to war in a foreign country he will be fighting men, women and children.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  14. jm

    who the hell cares? how is this news?

    February 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • Andy

      100%

      February 23, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • BJB

      I completely agree! Why is this headline news for CNN when there is a major crisis going on in the middle east as we speak?!?!

      February 23, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  15. Richard Flack

    If it was about christian values, he shouldn't be wrestling in the first place!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  16. billy

    Why not start a girls league? If she is the only girl to sign up, mayybe this should tell her , and all of us something.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  17. Traveler

    He was afraid of losing, pure and simple. The "religious" aspect of it is a smokescreen. It's a Rohrschach test, and "believers" see what they want to see.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  18. shaines

    Oh, he is part of the 'Christian' tradition indeed... treat all women like second-class citizens and let the men deal with the tough stuff. We all know women are tougher than men... get a cold and you'll find out soon enough. I applaud sticking to his beliefs... it is the beliefs that are flawed.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  19. mm

    Why am I not surprise that these backward thinking people are also religious conservatives. He denied her a real challenge because he was afraid he may have lost to a girl. The real attention should be on Cassy Herkelman for being tough and not quitting. Good for her!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • AugustusAlfa

      You must be watching lots of soaps where where women are stronger and smarter than men...However, in real life men are twice as strong as women and a woman would not have a chance of winning with comparatively trained man of her size.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  20. ............

    hiiiiiiiiiii

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

      Far be it for some Christians to validate a young woman's strength and equality by wrapping it up in some phony "It's not okay for a young X-tian boy to grapple with a girl" But it is just fine to grapple for hours with a boy? Come on where is the logic hear?

      February 23, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • Peacefrog

      I don't blame the kid one bit. I'm not a religious person and I have nothing but the utmost respect for women but I can certainly see where this kid is coming from. I suspect that few if any of you who have criticized this kid have ever wrestled. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if most of you haven't even seen a wresting match before. The types of holds and physical aggression that's involved in wrestling would be awkward at best when it comes to wresting a woman from a males perspective. It has nothing to do with being afraid of losing to a girl. If you bothered to read any of his other statements you would have known that he gave some kudos to Cassey for having the guts to wrestle. The kid has standards, which are hard to find in this day and age and some of you are criticizing him for it. Give the kid a break and stop being so judgmental.

      February 23, 2011 at 11:58 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.