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. DWP

    The intolerance in this discussion is palpable. How much hatred is shown on here for people with religious beliefs, and the hatred is spouted in the name of tolerance and equality. Clearly those who belittle a boy for having moral beliefs and convictions are the haters, the biggots and the immoral. He did not force his beliefs on anyone. He gave up a chance to compete, he did not demand that the girl give up her right to compete. Would this discussion be the same if a boy wanted to compete on a girl's team and the girls refused to play with him?

    February 24, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  2. Balls McGhee

    well, being a person of blind faith, this is probably the only girl he'll ever be able to wrestle with in his adolescence. he probably doesnt even know where his "thing" enters her "thing."

    February 24, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  3. JeramieH

    "... there is the biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity, ... and not looking at them as objects to be defeated on the wrestling mat"

    Because it's OK for men to treat each other without respect or dignity, and see each other only as objects to be defeated.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  4. Danny G

    One thing's for sure. These fundamentalists can't squeeze out a fart without checking scripture first to see if it is okay. God also gave people minds to think and reason with.........or, some of us, at least. This kid that forfeited is probably from one of those congregations that speak in tongues and get down on all fours and bark like dogs.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  5. WyoWrestling

    I have wrestled quite a few girls in my many years of wrestling. Being a woman, in no way, affects the ability to be a good wrestler, or athlete of any kind. Some of my toughest matches have been against females and I respect every one of them for having the courage to do what they do.
    On the other hand, I can see where Northrup is coming from. If it is against his personal beliefs to wrestle a girl then so be it, but it's his loss of great mat time and experience.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  6. givethekidabreak

    I thought America was built on freedom, if so, then why are so many people bashing this kid for exercising his freedom of choice. He didn't bad mouth the young lady. All he did was walk away from the match because of his beliefs. Every day, we all make choices based on our beliefs. In the video he said he wrestled a girl back in 3rd grade and it didn't feel right so he decided not to wrestle girls going forward, so his fear of loosing to a girl had nothing to do with his decission. I personally commend the young man for stepping aside rather than compromising his faith!

    February 24, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  7. c free

    good going boy at least someone isn't afraid to stay true to their convictions!!!

    February 24, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  8. v for hicktory

    As a woman, I would not want my boobs or my tweeter groped by a guy who want to wins a match. Even if I did not get me excited because only a girl can get me hot and bothered. What a Rosie, and what a nice young man. If I were a guy I would be gay today, girls are like dudes of the 80's, yuck!

    February 24, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  9. Steve J

    "it reflected the family’s Christian convictions"...that females are subservient to men and cannot be ever considered equal. Or if he gets that physical w/ one, he must impregnate her???

    February 24, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  10. Pao

    Maybe he should also keep in mind, what Psalm 11:5 says...“God himself examines the righteous one as well as the wicked one, and anyone loving violence His soul certainly hates.
    So, he should leave the sport altogether since it's displeasing to God regardless of it being a man or woman...

    February 24, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  11. Padraig

    Its sad that this is front page news, when how many people where murdered, etc, in the world today?

    "Boy in Iowa doesn't wrestle girl!" vs. "little boy in Somalia forced to join malitia and kill his own sister!"

    Thats sick

    February 24, 2011 at 12:46 am |
  12. Kevin

    The issue I find with this is that the wrestler must have, or at least should have known that he could very well be matched up to wrestle a girl. If he has a problem with wrestling girls, then he shouldn't sign up for the sport. He robbed the girl of a chance to have a fair match and earn herself either a win or a loss. She now has a win that she didn't earn, and that's disappointing for anyone who plays sports. All in all, if the kid has a problem with wresting girls, then don't join the wrestling team.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:45 am |
  13. KenAdams

    Religious convictions? So the boy claims that he doesn't want to be put into some of the positions with a girl? Doesn't it also say in the Bible not to lay with other men? So those positions would be just as wrong and the entire sport goes against his religious convictions.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Jess

      You';ve hit on exactly what I was thinking: he doesn't want to be in compromising positions with a girl but doesn't mind doing so with guys? Sounds like the opposite of what most bible-thumpers think is okay!

      February 24, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  14. Danny G

    Maybe he was afraid he'd lose...no credit if he won, lots of abuse if he lost. In other words, he's a weenie. I can't find any scripture where it says you can wrestle a girl

    February 24, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Danny G

      Whoops, I meant where it says you "cannot" wrestle a girl.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • bill

      Kid was like 35-2, she was like 10-17. I suspect that this is not the case, he's a contender, shes meat.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  15. Nick

    Heck with this boy, I bet this girl could kick most of the naysayer's butts!

    February 24, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • bill

      Actually, most girls get resoundingly crushed. Its a matter of body fat %, a girl that weighs 125 has far more body fat then a boy of the same weight. Girls only really win in 7th and 8th grade. I have never seen a decent junior-senior lose to a girl, and there were plenty of girls in my section.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  16. Eli

    The fact is that this guy really gave up his dreams to follow his morals. I respect him.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  17. andrew

    I'm obviously a dude, and used to wrestle a lot back in the day. Had to wrestle a girl once, it was awkward at first but quickly got over it when we both found ourselves equally determined to win. This boy does not seem to display good sportsmanship. As an athlete he should recognize that sports are to be played among those who have heart, and not make it about anything else. He is either too shy/uncomfortable around women, too snobby, or too intimidated. But certainly not a gentleman by refusing to wrestle with this girl. The fact that he's making it about religion is even more insulting.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:43 am |
  18. Mark

    Why do men always have to put up with these intrusional social experiments? The problem isn't that women aren't able to wrestle, or box, or run. The problem is they're jealous of the "glory" men get because they're better at all these things and get more attention, so they ignore all the womens leagues in all thes various sports (which probably could really use their help) and try to force the males to let them compete.
    SIgn a guy up for the Miss America pageant and see how quickly the chicks circle the wagons!
    I think men are being far to accommodating and dare I say "whipped" these days. We figure what's the harm because we know they'll never even come close to being a threat but there is harm! It's awkward and embarrassing for the guys that have to wrestle them. People like to pretend we live in a world where none of this matters but GET REAL! Of course it does! No guy is going to be focused when wrestling a chick! He'd be constantly worried about where he puts his hands and trying not to do anything to weird because everyones watching. Anyone who says differen't is a liar!

    And besides that their periods attract bears. Why take the risk.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • miscnelson

      Is that why that stupid bear keeps pacing back and forth in front of my patio window?

      February 24, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • WTSbrains

      ...Are you high?

      February 24, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Danny G

      Mark, I think you have your n*ts on backwards. Jealous of glory? This is a farm girl who possibly just like to wrestle and compete. There was no girls team. One thing, she's probably not jealous of anything you've done, is she? Sounds like it's your time of the month. Better be careful; the bears are going to sniff you out.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • Balls McGhee

      Um, i doubt a wrestler uses the crotch or chest area as a place to grab onto whether wrestling a man or woman. i take it you have never wrestled before.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • Brain

      Mark, why you no wrestle with girl?

      February 24, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  19. Artimus

    “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,”

    So is that why there still are positions in the church that women aren't allowed to hold in order to make sure they are treated with "respect and dignity" by keeping them in their "place." I'm sick of hearing about this kid being treated like he's a hero for acting out of "faith" when his decision just reinforces the notion that women can't compete in sports as equals.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • Danny G

      Yep, exactly. And the Lord sent the weener out of Eden and into the wilderness for his stones had shrunketh up like mustard seeds.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:47 am |
  20. Matt

    The only reason this situation even occurs is b/c there isn't any funding to have a wrestling specifically for woman. I attribute this to the simple fact that there really aren't enough woman who won't to wrestle in the first place (at least not enough to fill a school roster day in day out). I don't hear anyone complaining about how they aren't competing w/ other boys in track, baseball, soccer. If your going to split all these other sports up by gender shouldn't you split up wrestling??? Again the reality there just aren't enough woman that really want to wrestle to make it work while. Scenarios like these will continue to happen b/c of this issue and I don't think the kid did anything wrong by doing what he felt was morally right. Personally though,as a retired wrestler who had no problem wrestling girls.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • Real Christian

      I am a real christian. True christians do not inflict violence on women. A man should only inflict violence on other men. As Christ taught us. A girl has no place in wrestling. I am a true Christian.

      February 24, 2011 at 12:57 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.