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. Ann

    For all those taking this opportunity to bash Christianity- you are pathetic and need to find better ways of doing such or at least filling your time with better aimed criticism. That being said, I am all for genders being treated equal but I think this is a great example of chivalry; that many women wish was not dead. Furthermore, they separate boys and girls sports all the time- especially contact ones; I don't understand why they wouldn't with wrestling regardless of this boy's religious beliefs or not.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  2. LEB

    So he thinks girls are too fragile for combat and violence. Apparently he's never met a female soldier, or female cop, or female firefighter, or female CIA/FBI agent.

    Forfeiting the match shows her respect nor dignity. Proper respect would be to treat her like an equal, and to meet her as an opponent like he would any male. Proper respect would be to not hold back in the ring just because she's a girl. Proper respect would be to shake her hand afterward, whether he wins or loses. The girls who wrestle know what they're getting into, and don't want to be treated like delicate little flowers.

    And you know what they say... when a man puts a woman up on a pedestal, it's easier to look up her skirt.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  3. kevinb

    Regardless of his supposed religious convictions, he made a commitment to the sport of wrestling. If there are certain people he will not wrestle with it's because of prejudice, plan and simple. And there is no honor in that. Don't make commitments if you cannot keep them.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  4. SJ

    Off the subject a bit, but some people have been mentioning "equal rights". Does that mean boys can join the volleyball team? Perhaps it is legal and the spandex deter them...just thought I would throw that out there...many high school boys I am sure would jump on that!

    February 24, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  5. nepawoods

    He's no Andy Kaufman.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  6. Thisisajoke

    "the biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity.."... which bible are these ppl reading? the one i read contains passages that have been responsible for the subjugation and degradation of women

    February 23, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  7. Brooke

    I think he just didn't want to risk losing to a girl.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  8. CJ

    Why is this a story on the FRONT PAGE for the second time !? Girl wrestles. Boy has personal convictions that he chooses to follow that preclude him from wrestling ? There's an entire region of the planet that is in upheaval and this is on the front page !?

    February 23, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  9. The Truth

    Really who cares. Aren't there more important things to talk about? It is his right and if you people still bicker over this, then you need a life.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  10. Dan

    I side with him on this manner. I would not have wrestled her either. If he had hurt her or people thought that his hands stayed in the wrong area too long, he would have taken a lot of grief over it and there could have been a law suit. A sport does not protect you.
    And as for religion, it is what he believes. So many people on here blast him for his belief and think their belief system is vastly superior. Don't you think a lot of yourself! He did what he felt was right for him. She benefits from it. Who cares!

    February 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  11. FSM

    Did this kid really use the bible as a shining example of how to treat women? Wow. Most "biblical Christian principles" revolve around the subjugation of women and inequality to men. It's called Iron Age diversity.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  12. Steve

    At that age, almost every other high school sport I can think of. Swimming, baseball, tennis, golf etc each have a separate league between boys and girls. I especially think wrestling should be like that too. It's only because they aren't enough girls wrestling that they integrate them with the boys.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  13. Bill Gehlhaus

    So a "compromising position" with another male is ok? You don't treat a male opponent with dignity and respect? We see this in other countrys and think ..extremist.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  14. Marge

    Typical preacher's son who's coupled gender with violence to create $exual arousal and didn't want everyone to see him get wood and a wetspot during the match.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  15. lorne

    Anatomy is Destiny.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • ZJJ

      It is sad that you believe this is true...especially in a society where we are trying to tear down those unfair and incredibly discriminatory practices

      February 24, 2011 at 12:06 am |
  16. The Truth

    Who really cares about this? Aren't there more important issues. It is his right to decide what he wants to do. Get over it.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  17. pete.

    with a young mans testostrones and hormone count,he would have lost because of the erection hold.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • ZJJ

      Plenty of gay men wrestle and you don't see them getting erections?

      February 24, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  18. Electron

    How do these storys make news? lol Thats pathetic. Why would any guy wrestler want to wrestle a girl? What is this world focusing on? ALex Jones and David icke know whats up

    February 23, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • hmmm...

      do you have children?

      February 24, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  19. Mary

    Chivalry is not dead! Gender equal opportunity does not mean there can't be a line drawn around respect for our differences.

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

      And since when does strength count as a difference? Obviously she proved she could "get rough with the boys" since she was competing at the state tournament.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Madison


      February 24, 2011 at 12:18 am |
  20. Bree

    I am not conflicted either way with this. The girl wants to wrestle, the boy is within his rights to withdraw from whatever match he feels like. I see no problem here... both are doing what they want. She will just face someone else that wants to fight her. I see this as fair all around.

    February 23, 2011 at 11:47 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.