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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. Su

    He should have treated her as and equal opponent, why was he worried about her gender? I feel for Cassy, she made it that far in a male dominated sported only to be reminded she is a girl. Did you hear her voice? 🙁 It seemed like the CNN host was congratulating him on the decision, too bad the guys wont understand her point of view. Kudos to Cassy Hasselman.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:27 am |
  2. Fuyuko

    Don't get involved with co-ed sports if you don't want to interract with the opposite gender.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:27 am |
  3. guy

    She would have kicked his a$$...ahahahaahaha....

    February 24, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  4. Rhiannon King

    A true althlete, meaning one who shows the upmost respect for the sport would honor the challenge. In this particular sport making it to the state tournament is byfar not an easy task. CASSY MADE STATE! Yet Joel dishonors this well known fact by defaulting. That to me is the definition of a POOR SPORT and extremely disrespectful, but to each his own. I am proud to say her next match was vs North/Hoovers Jorden Jones (My graduating school) and Jorden took her on as a wrestler, a athlete, a skilled opponent. Took her down in 1:21. That's how it's done!!

    February 24, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  5. Me

    Female wrestlers? Oh, come on. I wouldn't have wrestled her either, and I'm not really religious.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  6. rybaxs

    his the man! what the opponent wants.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  7. StevieBoy

    I don't blame him a bit! It's MUCH hotter wresting with a fellow dude and you don't leave the match smelling like a sweaty fish!

    February 24, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  8. BliBla

    This kid is an embarrassment. Gender discrimination is alive and well – and it's still wrong. Get over your fictional novel and start treating people as equals.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  9. Vann

    That kid is probably gay.

    Common, what high school teenager would say that!

    February 24, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  10. zach

    Personally its 2011 men gotta get over it. I wrestled in high school and since have helped coached and have never seen this before. It is a contact sport and not a 'combat' sport the objective is to pin not slam or injure i think this kid was afraid of losing and didnt want a loss to be to a girl....grow up there tiger

    February 24, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  11. chedar

    Imagine your are getting a headlock from a lady who is having his monthly period. It's kind of yacky! I think this young man has more class than that.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  12. Guest

    er...is this discrimination?

    February 24, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  13. Lydia

    So it's OK for Christian men to inflict violence upon other men? What happened to Jesus' teaching of agape – brotherly love? This is an example of cherry-picking – using Christian (or other religious) scripture and teachings to justify one's position on a given issue.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • bill

      Didnt Israel wrestle with the archangel? Most people who claim to follow the bible cherry pick it, ignore most of the hebrew bible except when it benefits them, and make terrible arguments. There is nothing sinful in sport.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  14. Robert

    Let's be blunt, men and women both have handles that can be injured or cause intense pain if "handled" viciously (guys especially). Cups take care of the dudes, but women's stuff is hanging out there. If I was wrestling a woman to survive, or to win, it would be hard not to give her breasts a pounding. The bigger the breasts, the bigger the problem. And if I were wrestling to win, you can bet I wouldn't hesitate to do what's necessary to wrench my opponent down. No guy should even have to think about it. Breasts are a physical reality (thank, God). But in many cases, probably not well suited for the ring. I've recreation-ally wrestled some girlfriends, but an elbow pressing at full force in the wrong place? Don't think so. Sports bra makers, there's an opening here.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • sickofcrap

      Thank you for hitting it on the nose!! Plain and simple, the young man felt uncomfortable being put in the postion of having to potentiantially "grab" the female in a disrepectful way.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:23 am |
  15. fsmgroupie

    poor kid has been brain washed all his life-been told he'll burn in hell for all eternity if he doesn't believe in jesus ,sing songs of praise and kiss his feet- hopefully he'll someday realize that the flying spaghetti monster is the only true god and the rest is just ancient bs

    February 24, 2011 at 1:04 am |
  16. byron Peterson

    What's all this 'Christian' B.S.? Let's face it....he was just afraid he was going to take a whupping from a girl.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  17. muhrvis

    This boy and his family are unfortunately mentally challenged. To think that engaging in a regulated athletic contest with a willing opponent somehow violates their "dignity" is nothing but patronizing. The bullsh it about "respect and dignity" is just a cover for the desire of such moronic "Christians" to decide for a woman what she'll be allowed to do or be.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • Rich

      The boy didn't, "decide" anything for the girl, what she should or shouldn't be. He decided that his faith would not allow him to wrestle her and remain true to his values, that come from the bible. Explain to me why that is, "moronic".

      As someone who considers myself a believer, believing that the bible is the word of God, and that it is to be obeyed, I honestly think that he did the right thing.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • Tim

      Sorry Rich, the point is that this is a moronic, self-righteous interpretation of the Bible. Please discover the New Testament, lighten up, and realize that the more Christian thing to do here would be to give a girl a chance to play.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • Andrew

      Rich, he did the right thing by holding women to a different standard than men? By treating her as though she needed to be protected from him, lest she risk being "treated like objects to be defeated on the wrestling mat to be, in some cases, groped or slammed", despite that being so totally ok for men, right?

      It's ok to treat a man that way, but noooo, women can't be groped or slammed in wrestling, that'd be non-respectful??

      ... Wow, you sound like quite the human being if you seriously believe this kid was at all in the right. You know it's s-xist to treat women as fundamentally different from men, if she choose to sign up for it, her decision should be respected as an equal human being, rather than treated differently cause she's a women. Equality... apparently the bible doesn't preach it, according to you.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  18. Sean

    Why is this even news still? I can understand a little why it was national news when it happened (though its not the first time it has happend)... but why still?

    February 24, 2011 at 1:00 am |
  19. klkeebler

    It never ceases to amaze me how people refuse to respect the fact that people have different beliefs. America was founded on the basis of freedom of religion. Freedom to think and believe they way you wish. And thats what makes America a beautiful place.

    I'm not even Christian, but I respect this athlete, because he's sacrificing his desires to win and advance for what he truly believes in. For all of you putting him down and saying he's afraid to lose to a girl: get real.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • theresa

      I agree. I just wish the last line of the article wasn't about changing the rules. I respect his opinion and decision but that doesn't meant that women should be barred from this co-ed opportunity.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • muhrvis

      Sure, more power to him if he wants to sacrifice his wrestling championship for his "beliefs." But is it some high principle involved? No. Is it even rational? No. Am I supposed to applaud him? No. If this guy had so much "respect" for women, he'd respect and honor this woman's choice to take part in a very difficult and challenging athletic activity and let her give it her best shot like all humans deserve.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • Tim

      This story isn't about freedom of religion at all. What makes this a story is this family's rather humorous interpretation of their Christian faith. What would be more Christian is giving this girl wrestler an equal opportunity to play.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • Andrew

      I don't respect it because it's not treating her as another human being. It's treating her as a weakling, who he would smash, and while yes that's true it's possible, she is willing to risk it, doesn't he deserve to show her the same kind of respect and beat her fairly as he would to any guy?

      Women aren't so damn fragile that they need men to shelter or protect them. If a girl has decided to join the tournament, if she's put herself out there, he should be able to respect her decision AS AN EQUAL and face her fairly.

      It's not that he's a coward, it's that he's treating her as inferior. He may be the better wrestler, but he's a p*ss poor example of a human being if he refuses to treat women as equals. Men may have generally more physical strength, but that certainly doesn't mean all women lack physical strength, and that they shouldn't be treated as equals. If she's willing to sign up, he should be willing to face her.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • paulm5545

      If he wrestled with a female, he did not think it was in keeping with "...the biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity." So by that line of thinking, I guess when he wrestles any male opponent, he is not treating them with respect and dignity. Sorry, not buying it.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • sickofcrap

      well said!

      February 24, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • john

      sure, people have freedom of religion, but we also have the freedom to comment on how backwards, old fashion and fake anyone's religion is too. (which they all are)

      February 24, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  20. Bruce

    He's a wimp and she probably would have beat him. What a lame excuse. Get a life, chump.

    February 24, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • bill

      Kid was 35-2 and she was like 10-17. Not the case.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • B1975

      That could have been his future wife! Me and my wife love to tussle before we settle down hint hint! He still thinking with his fathers mindset!

      February 24, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • Mikey

      Forget belief-think instinct. If a woman, man or anything rushes at me and tries to pin me down-I am winning that fight. Never give up!

      February 24, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • sickofcrap

      Bruce...your a jerk, my guess is your momma whooped your ass when you misbehaved. I think this young man shows a great respect for humanity. And no, I'm not some liberal naysayer.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • GHynson

      Go for the eyes boo..
      Go for the eyes!!!!

      February 24, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • Kay

      He lost in the second round himself, so...

      February 24, 2011 at 1:27 am |
    • Andrew

      sickofcrap, how the T$#T$W is what he did respectful?

      She signed up for the tournament. She knew what she was getting herself in to. She has worked to be good at the sport. She came to compete. And yet this guy said essentially "I don't care, I can't wrestle you because you're a girl".

      That's not respectful, that's misogynistic. That's treating women as flowers rather than as equal individuals. Where on earth is the respect in that? Why shouldn't guys wrestle girls, if a girl can beat a guy, she deserves to try. If she can't, she deserves to lose fairly. She doesn't deserve to win just because some guy couldn't look at her as an equal. That is the ant-thesis (GET YOUR @T#$GS POST BLOCKERS CHECKING FOR WHITESPACES YOU LAZY PROGRAMMERS! T i t can work its way into many words, it's not hard to just add two damn characters to your word list, add the whitespaces!) of respect.

      He can say women deserve to be treated with respect and dignity all he likes, but his actions speak far louder than words. He showed her no respect, and has stripped her dignity, that's as bad as it gets.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • Jillian

      There were two female wrestlers there that night. They were 0-4 in head to head matches against males. That being said, her record was 20-13 against other girls and HIS record was 35-3 against other males. She would have had her rear handed to her, which the following matches later proved.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • Rhiannon King

      A true althlete, meaning one who shows the upmost respect for the sport would honor the challenge. In this particular sport making it to the state tournament is byfar not an easy task. CASSY MADE STATE! Yet Joel dishonors this well known fact by defaulting. That to me is the definition of a POOR SPORT

      February 24, 2011 at 1:41 am |
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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.