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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. wahwah

    if he lost his dad would have bought him a thong

    February 24, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  2. mike smith

    Its a free country but please tell me the book in the bible regarding playing sports with the opposite gender. Have an opinion, fine. Stop dragging Christ into your argument to support it. The same argument was made when african americans started playing white student in sports. God didn't give a rats asss then and doesn't now.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:19 am |
  3. jane

    The interviewer is a jerk. The kid and the dad said what they thought in the beginning, and all the interviewer is trying to do is paint the kid into a corner, put words in their mouths, try to make it a religious issue even though they did not mention that when asked, and basically being disrespectful to the family. I don't like this interviewer that well after this interview.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:18 am |
  4. NM Man

    I think what this kid did was admirable, and that was to stand up for principles he believed in.
    The matter of whether or not he would have won or lost is irrelevant.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:17 am |
  5. Kevin

    Are they reading the same Bible as everyone else? Respect women? It sounds like they were given the sanitized version.

    I would probably feel awkward wrestling a girl too though.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  6. S

    Thanks to all! It has been most entertaining reading all your silly comments. Your comments are way better than the story itself!

    February 24, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  7. Len

    Me thinks the kid was afraid he would be beat by a girl. Wimp.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  8. Katie

    He's doing what he genuinely believes is right, I can't fault him for that.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • Fred M.

      So did Son of Sam, but that didn't make it right.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:51 am |
  9. Mike

    CHEAP EXCUSE!!!!! as a youth wrestling coach and former christian i have no respect for his cheap excuse, show me in the "bible" where "god" condems a man for engaging a woman in sport. this little boy and family need to grow up.......

    February 24, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  10. Shawn

    are you serious? i wrestled and had to wrestle girls before. I never wrestled them in an actual match, but i know other guys did. I gotta say this, but he needs to stop being a wimp.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  11. daniel1012

    god forbid this boy has to rescue a naked women from a lake .. he'd let her drown

    February 24, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • Jim970

      Not the same thing at all. Your "example" is ludicrous.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  12. ACinSC

    NOT NEWS. Move on everybody. Tell us what's happening in Wisconsin. Report the real story CNN!

    February 24, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  13. Matt

    This kid is a stud, not because of his justification for forfeiting, but simply because he had the guts to be consistent. Isn't this what so many of us don't like about people who use religious tradition as a means for explaining their behavior....they're not CONSISTENT? We're talking out of both sides of our mouth when we rake people over the coals for not being consistent relative to belief & behavior and yet are unwilling to applaud this kid. He's reasoning is irrelevant..the point is that he has character to let his yes be yes and his no be no, something most adults can't honor. Stud. Plain and simple.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  14. kevinb

    Read the heading of this page, it's the religion department. CNN can and should report on many aspects of life, not just the most newsiest, most dramatic, most recent events. It's called diversity in reporting. And it's a good thing. Contrary to what some have said, I'm glad to have read this article, and glad it was brought to my attention on cnn dot com's front page.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  15. stpaul

    Interesting...but front page material? With earthquakes and global unrest I don't see how this get's top billing...

    February 24, 2011 at 12:09 am |
  16. Theresa

    I am an adult woman, 4 kids, and I have a Black Belt in Mixed Martial Arts. I have trained for 8 years, doing both sparring and grappling. I've trained against men, women, and young adults – both boys and girls. Males and females bring different skills to the mat, and to be a better fighter you have to be able to take on any opponent. It might seem a bit uncomfortable when you first start, but after about 5 seconds, you GET OVER the gender thing and get on with your training!! This decision shows a lack of maturity from this young man. He needs some serious help if he can't control himself enough NOT to cop a feel on his opponent during a wrestling match.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • SuperFed

      Seems quite mature to me – especially for a teen age boy. Consider he gave up his dream of being a wrestling champion to honor his own personal beliefs. Most people compromise their own integrity for selfish ambition.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • Johnny

      So what? I wouldn't wrestle you but would have no issue loading you up with some buckshot since you are such a bad A$$

      February 24, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  17. Roy

    Christian values / Bible: Let's see: Sell your daughters is OKAY. Multiple women as wives is OKAY. Your lady to be your property is OKAY – but to wrestle one – NO WAY – cause I am respectful.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Jennifer

      HA HA HA! I was thinking this exact same thing when I read through the article. Kudos for pointing this out.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • Mark9988

      Completely ignorant.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • Matt

      Roy, with all respect, this is a stupid nonsensical argument. First of all, if this kid is a Christian, he doesn't subscribe to these beliefs because they're all from the Old Testament....he would have to be an orthodox Jew to honor those things. Second of all, this kid doesn't have a wife (or multiple wives for that matter) and he doesn't have any daughters to sell. For him, these arguments are 100% irrelevant and out of the context of his situation. What he's referring to is the uncomfortable nature of the situation....it's too close to something that he's been told isn't okay (groping a chick). Give him some credit for this...he's trying to figure out how to let what he believes play out in real life – something we all do on a daily basis.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Johnny

      Wow. You really are stupid aren't you? Yup. You sure are...

      February 24, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • kevinb

      Roy you are right on the mark. This is just another instance of Christians picking and choosing parts of the bible that suit their particular needs at the time so to justify their actions. Whenever Christians think it's a good idea to go to war, they ALWAYS point to the old Testament for justification. But whenever someone highlights their hypocrisy, they deny the old Testament.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Matt

      Guys....get educated:

      The Old Testament/ "Let's see: Sell your daughters is OKAY. Multiple women as wives is OKAY. Your lady to be your property is OKAY"

      The New Testament/Christianity: There's a new covenant. That way you were living in the Old Testament, it doesn't work. Let's try something new.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • Fred M.

      Right on, Roy! The cafeteria Christians (like Mark9988), who pick and choose which sections and versions of the Bible to subscribe to, will come out of the woodwork and call you "ignorant" when, in fact, you're the one displaying quite a bit of knowledge about the Bible.

      It's the "word of God" when it's a section/version that they want to shove down your throat, but God help you (ironic usage intended) if you point out the numerous sections condoning murder, slavery, torture, subjugation of women, etc.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  18. alykat

    I would like to meet this guy and his dad and shake their hands and say "thanks, Gentlemen!!" It could have been turned into a
    media fiasco and these men took the high road and did the right thing! Respect ,Honour and Dignity still exist and are exemplified by people like the Northrups...oh yeah, forgot CLASS!

    February 24, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • kevinb

      So, you think this woman should not be allowed to wrestle? Nothing classy about this forfeit. It seems more like he's afraid to touch a woman.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • Mark9988

      No Kevin, we think that's you.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Knight of Gaia

      They can wrestle those of their gender.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • kevinb

      So, it's ok for women to touch each other's crotch, and it's ok for men to touch each other's crotch... hmm, I thought Christians were anti gay.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • pmad

      The media only turned it into a fiasco after the kid forfeited the match. There were girls just starting to wrestle in high school in my area when I was in school 15 years ago..this female is not the only one out there.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  19. Dave

    Greco Roman Wrestling has standard moves, counter moves. There are attach moves and defensive moves. All these are carefully watches by a ref who will stop a match immediately if anything is not standard. It is all about leverage, power, and control. This inappropriate placement of hands is all in the applications against each other. Those that did it understand, those that never have done it will never understand the complexity of the sport.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • LEB

      You say it's all about leverage, power, and control, but you're forgetting speed and flexibility. Women are generally more flexible than men, and can get out of holds that men find more difficult.

      Besides, this kid is 112 lbs. You really think there aren't girls who can take him?

      February 24, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • A jar of almonds

      They do Greco Roman in the Olympics. Not in highschool and NCAA.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  20. wahwah

    waaahh...baby didn't want to lose to a girl...probably thought he'd pitch a tent by touching a girl for the first time too.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Dave

      Grow up.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • wahwah

      i guess men shouldn't have to compete with women in anything else either Dave...(your wife says keep washing the dishes too)

      February 24, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Matt

      This kid is a stud, not because of his justification for forfeiting, but simply because he had the guts to be consistent. Isn't this what so many of us don't like about people who use religious tradition as a means for explaining their behavior....they're not CONSISTENT? We're talking out of both sides of our mouth when we rake people over the coals for not being consistent relative to belief & behavior and yet are unwilling to applaud this kid. His reasoning is irrelevant..the point is that he has enough character and integrity to let his yes be yes and his no be no, something most adults can't honor. Stud. Plain and simple.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • EM

      It's the crotch holds.
      Dem's da worst.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • wahwah

      the girl will be his boss someday

      February 24, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • kevinb

      IIf this kid was consistent he would have kept to his commitment to the sport of wrestling. The sport and it's authorities had no problem with this young lady wrestling. Dropping out for a reason such as this is cowardly.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • JC

      Home Schooled. Nuff Said!

      February 24, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • Amy

      you're exactly correct. he's either lying or being self-delusional when he claims it was his faith that made him not wrestle her. the real issue is he was afraid of losing to her.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • John Reynolds

      Its sad....Even Boy Scouts are opening up to being co-ed. Not like the entire rest of the world already is. We're so up-tight as a nation. I"m ashamed of what we teach the kids sometimes.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • wahwah

      if he won he would get a pizza party...if he lost he would have a princess party

      February 24, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Former wrestler...

      ...that's a real concern when you're wearing a singlet, actually. The way those things hug the "male figure", an 1% increase in bloodflow to the junk can be observed with the naked eye from across a gymnasium.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • wahwah

      who knows...that could have been their "story" about how they met. "Well, your dad was riding me hard on the mat...and the rest is history."

      February 24, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • David L

      this girl obviously had to defeat others, boys and girls alike to get to the championship. So this is soley a case of fear of losing or more obvious a desire to make headlines. probably put up to it by his parents or worse his pastor. anything to make the news. its sad when parents use their children to make a point or get attention, who knows maybe the kid didnt care about wrestling her at all...

      February 24, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • Matt

      To all of you who keep claiming this was about "not wanting to lose to a girl": Why can't we simply take what this kid said at face value? Why must we insist he's lying? I don't get it...is this how you all walk through life...assuming everyone is lying to you?

      February 24, 2011 at 12:32 am |
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About this blog

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.