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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. Gary Ordish

    I think the pendulum of political correctness has swung a little too far to the left if women are allowed to wrestle men. Sorry girls but you just can't compete against men in this sport, you aren't strong enough and no court of law or political body will ever make it so. If you want to wrestle, wrestle other women.

    February 24, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • CJFROMMN

      GARY- your probably one of those kids in high school that got beat at everything by a girl. How immature of you– do you know physically a girls muscle retention up to 12 grade is the same rate as a male. GROW UP she obviously beat other boys to get to the state tourney.

      WHICH MEANS , she trained, she ran, she did the sit ups, the push ups, the drilling of moves, the making weight for the team matches, and Saturday tourneys and she even made her REGION OR SECTION team and beat a boy on her team to get it.

      So REALLY gary just cause you dont have a pair doesn't mean that there aren't some young women that do. By the way, would you say the same thing to your own moms face- PROBABLY NOT!!

      P.S. during the h.s. season there are no women only teams, USA WRESTLING is after the high school season, where she may be able to wrestle only girls-HERES A SHOCKER gary, they even have freestyle wrestling for women at the Olympics, which i could drop in for a match with them.

      February 24, 2011 at 2:54 am |
  2. mrspockk

    Too many sports are too violent. So, this kid doesn't want to inflict damage to a female but he would to a male? Maybe he thought he would lose the match.

    February 24, 2011 at 2:02 am |
  3. Andrew

    I respect this young mans decision. I don't condone direct violence, whether voluntary or not, on a woman. Wrestling is a violent sport. For those who say women should be treated equally, do you think women should also be able to be involuntarily be put into combat arms positions such as infantry in the military the same way men can be? I think most of you would say "No". Either be all for your equality choice or recognize there are certain things that should be gender specific and certain things that shouldn't.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  4. Battle54

    One can deduce that the family's Christian convictions allow for their son to inflict violence on a boy but not a girl, and that given that wrestling is a combat sport, and at times violent, it is fine that two boys can be put in moves and holds that are compromising. Further, one should accept the idea of two boys wrestling because there lacks a biblical Christian principle that two boys should treat each other with respect and dignity, but according to a biblical Christian principle, a boy should treat a girl with respect and dignity. And finally, one can deduce that it is acceptable for one boy to look at another boy as an object to be defeated on the wrestling mat, and in some cases for one boy to grope or slam another boy. Quite a few Christian concepts to wrestle with.....

    February 24, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  5. Liz

    Honestly as a woman, I have the right to choose who I would wrestle with or not, and so has any man.
    This is a free country, and a free sport.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:54 am |
  6. Sweetpea

    Christian convictions? Makes sense. It's always been readily apparent that Christianity contains a strong undercurrent of fear of and contempt for females - starting with Eve.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:52 am |
  7. Aaron

    Good for him for standing up for what he believes to the benefit of himself and others.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • CJFROMMN

      ARRON
      do you realize some kid he beat on his own team couldn't wrestle because he lost to this kid– now this kid gets to state and CHOOSES to throw away a match, when some kid sitting at home on his own team, would have wrestled because -HE REALIZES she did as much work as him and maybe some more to get to the state tourney.

      Which means she has to beat other boys, 1st. on her team, then in her conference, then in her section and place in the top two of each one of those just listed.

      I CALL THAT SELFISHNESS ON HIS PART.

      February 24, 2011 at 3:05 am |
  8. Mike

    what an idiot.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:49 am |
  9. Andulamb

    The kid thinks the female wrestler should wrestle other girls. So much for not wanting to inflict violence on a girl. Sure, it won't be HIM inflicting the violence, but violence will be inflicted. He's not saying that girls should wrestle at all. Just that he doesn't want to wrestle one. Then there's his dad's statements about respecting girls. This girl wants to be treated as an equal. She believes she can hold her own against boys. Refusing to wrestle her does not respect her. Yes, I'm sure the kid's Christian values DID come into play - in terms of believing that women should be subservient to men. I believe his decision not to fight the girl came down to two things: being uncomfortable with the idea that he might touch her naughty bits and she might touch his, and not believing that women are equal to men. And perhaps being afraid that she might beat him. It's too bad he didn't just wrestle her. He would have found out quickly that the focus involved in trying to beat her would have taken all of his attention off of her femaleness. And either he would have beat her and reaffirmed his manliness, or she would have beaten him and he may have realized that if a girl athlete is as good as the boy athletes, she should be able to compete against boys. All that being said, the kid had every right to choose not to wrestle her. This country is about freedom. You don't have to like his choices, but they were his to make. The girl got to choose to wrestle boys, and this particular boy got to choose not to wrestle a girl. And lo and behold - at least so far - he's not blaming anyone for the consequences of his choice. That's very refreshing.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  10. dean

    Who would Jesus wrestle?

    February 24, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  11. Adam

    Having wrestled in high school, I can tell you with confidence that this is not as uncommon as this media attention makes it out to be. Though most guys go through with the match and the vast majority win, some do forfeit. Being put in a position in which you are forced to wrestle a girl is an awkward one: there is no honor or gratification in winning and if you lose you will never hear the end of it.

    I don't think its really necessary or feasible at this point in time to have a female wrestling league simply because there aren't enough wrestlers. The girls who do participate are perfectly aware of the risks and are used to getting beat up on/giving it out, so I personally see no issue with wrestling a girl as long as your intentions are strictly sport-related.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  12. Ally

    I'm the most open minded liberal mom you could ever imagine. However, this young lady should not wrestle boys. If there were a girls only wrestling team, it would be fine, even if I or other parents found it odd . Something tells me the popularity of such a sport could gain substantial revenue....

    February 24, 2011 at 1:38 am |
  13. Donovan

    He was afraid he might get excited in his pants because it was the first girl he ever touched

    February 24, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  14. Richar

    Christian Beliefs? Poor kid.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  15. Cheryl

    I agree that male wrestlers should only wrestle with males. All other sports Basketball, track, volleyball, tennis, softball, baseball, gymnastics and others all have separate teams for males and females. why should wrestling be any different. I support his decision and respect him for it as well.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • Adam

      That would be an ideal situation, but in reality there aren't enough female wrestlers to form a respectable league at any level. During my senior year in high school, out of a total of 64 matches I saw maybe 6 girls. Not wrestled- saw.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • Michael

      Adam, I am sorry there may not be enough girl wrestlers to form a league but that doesn't excuse the fact that our Politically correct environment almost demands the separation of boys and girls in certain things. It sucks that our system is like that but that is the way it is. We'll never have that equality thing like they show on star trek. I agree that the sport of wrestling should not intermix boys and girls. If a girl wants to wrestle she should get out, talk to other girls and try to get a league formed. If it doesn't happen that sucks too but it is called LIFE. Life isn't always fair. And I think it is a shame this boy had to give up his chance for a championship because of his conflict about wrestling with a girl . He should never have been placed in that position in the first place.

      February 24, 2011 at 2:06 am |
  16. Kvlee

    I respect everyone'c choice wrestle verbally or not with this story based on real facts or a complete lack or facts. Go for it or not.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:34 am |
  17. Paul

    It's just not fair for all wrestlers competing in the boys/men division.

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

    How is he not supposed to get aroused!? Wrestling between a boy and a girl is just dumb, there are so many biological factors in play that make it such a convoluted match, regardless of who could win.

    Stop pretending we are all equal, because we are not. Being different does not equate being better or worse.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • CJFROMMN

      you are a very sick person if you think this boy would pop a woody while wrestling a girl. You also have never done sports this tough- there is to much emphasis on the breathing, muscle coordination, not getting in to bad moves and doing what your coaches see to help be successful. You need help!!!

      February 24, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • penel9

      I'm a girl and have to agree with you. There are definite bio differences btwn males and females (beyond her getting groped for Pete's sake!) This whole thing is idiotic.

      February 24, 2011 at 2:01 am |
  19. WC

    His decision reflected the family's Christian convictions–not to risk loss to a female at any cost

    February 24, 2011 at 1:31 am |
  20. Kay

    I find the fact that Northrup sites his Christian beliefs as his reason for not wrestling this girl offensive. Christ teaches his followers, through his word, to turn the other cheek. In that case, his wrestling another guy is also un-Christian. If he is going to site the Christian religion as his reason for not wrestling a girl, he shouldn't be wrestling anyone.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • Jordan

      I agree, somehow I don't think Christ would be in a violent sport wrestling a man let alone a women. Sounds hypocritial to use christ as a justification when you don't follow his teachings. Christ would not participate in wrestling or in watching it and I believe he would have condemed such violence.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • csp31

      yes it does say to turn the other cheek in the bible, but you're using it out of context. he is wrestling as a sport. he isn't wrestling as a result of a conflict or fight with another guy. and the bible doesn't condemn sports to my knowledge.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:41 am |
    • chad

      This is another example of simple and close minded people hiding behind the make believe 'man' in the sky.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:44 am |
    • Tammi

      I do not consider wrestling a violent sport, BOXING maybe, but not high school wrestling. It isn't wrestling like what you see on WWF. This sort of wrestling is about positioning and strength. I believe that it WAS this young man's Christian values that prevented him from feeling comfortable in the intimate positions that it requires for a young man to pin his opponent. I can understand and respect his position. I agree with his statement that there should be a girls wrestling team. Unfortunately for the young woman, girls don't usually want to wrestle. Perhaps if young ladies were not concerned about having to wrestle young men, there would be more young women interested in the sport.

      Regarding the subject that Christ would not wrestle, there are many things Christ would not do that people (including you) do every day and ask forgiveness for. He didn't say that he wouldn't do it because Christ wouldn't do it, he said he wouldn't do it because his values wouldn't allow him to do it and his values are based on his faith.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • chris

      pathetic , this boy just doesn't want to get beat by a girl–how can it be disrespectul to her if the sport is not disrespectful to men-

      February 24, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • Dan

      Kay, As a longtime wrestler and a longtime wrestling coach at a Christian high school I can say that there is nothing anti-Christian about the sport of wrestling. Just like any sport or action, people can turn it into something that is not God-pleasing; however, the sport, with the rules that support it and are designed to prevent injury, is fantastic and a great way for children to develop self-discipline. A well-fought wrestling match more often makes friends that enemies. People who train as hard as wrestlers do understand the commitment to excellence that goes into the sport and the comraderie that comes with that commitment.

      Jordan, in response to your post I advise you to check out Matthew 21:12-13 for informational purposes.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:55 am |
    • Headlock

      What I find incredibly annoying is that anyone would say they're "offended" over someone else's interpretation of their religious beliefs. Seriously, get over it! What a nation of oversensitive wackos we've become!

      And for all you nimrods who don't think Jesus would've wrestled, pick up a Bible and read it every once in a while ... Jacob wrestled with God ... and left with a limp.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • Dr.Tong

      II find your being offended offensive. Now you be offended at me being offended at you being offended. Good. Now run around in circles clucking like a chicken.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Kay

      Dan, I can appreciate your response even though I do not really agree with it. I don't see what difference it makes whether we call something a sport or whether someone is committing a violent act out of malicious intent. Then again, that's a good reason for my not wrestling, and I'm not saying other people or even other Christians have to agree with me. Thanks for the response though.

      Headlock, when saying "annoyed" your might as well saying that your offended by my assessment so what gives? I was just posing another aspect of the story to think about. I'm not necessarily condemning this kid for his beliefs. I'm saying saying maybe he should examine them more closely.

      February 24, 2011 at 2:19 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.