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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. Brotha C

    I will be cool with him wrestling her the day a man gets slapped by a woman, he in turn knocks her out,and its viewed as a fair fight between two individuals and he is not charged, ridiculed,frowned upon or called cowardly. Until then dont talk to me about equal,because its not even remotely equal. BTW, we then need to start teaching our young men that if anyone strikes u,male or female, u whip that tail!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  2. mud

    nice boy is right in not wrestling no girl.s peirod that was right thing to do from rest usa

    February 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Neal

      Your grammar is an abomination. As well, I disagree with your opinion.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      I am married to an ex female pro wrestler. On Saturday nights , we get a case of beer, and Dee Dee gets into her old rasslin tights. She's gained quite a little weight since her rasslin years, so it takes her awhile. That really turns me on watching her get into those tights. Then she gets me in different holds. The scissors and the full nelson really turns me on. Her head lock really turns me on too. Last Sat. night she got me into that airplane spin, over her head. But Dee Dee tripped and I wnt down the trailer steps. Cut my lip pretty bad. I said , " thats all the lovin I can take tonight SugarCakes.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      I'll try her! I' am kinda old but I'm spry. And fiesty.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  3. Kierra

    Put this P_SSY in a female prison for a day. He'll learn to fight women real fast! Better yet, have him enlist in the Marines and face a femnale DI ... ROTFLMFAO

    February 23, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • daddy

      kierra you are right ! he wouldnt stand a chance, then we should repeal all of these gender equality laws, and stop regarding women has a protected class of citizens, right? like that would ever happen. you wouldn't last a minute. the reason we have quotas and special protections for you is because women cant compete.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  4. AE

    Congrats. I would not want my son wrestling with girls although he has 3 sisters and I do believe it show character for this young man.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  5. mother of four

    I am so totally impressed. This young man sacrificed the opportunity to advance when he was a favorite to win because of his morals. How often do we see this in action in this day and age? Not often enough.

    Christian men (ideally) recognize women's equality with respect to what they are capable of, but also believe that they should be treated with respect and gentleness. Even when they don't seek it or want it.

    I agree that there should be separate divisions for boys and girls–just like basketball and baseball. Because we have equal rights and are capable of accomplishing the same goals, does not mean that the differences between us physically and emotionally have disappeared.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  6. Aaron

    I had to wrestle two girls when I was in high school. I had no problem either time but, before the matches, I was sweating bullets. As a guy, no matter how good you are, all that goes through your mind is "what if..." That being said, we had a couple of girls on our team and I must have apologized 50 times once when I practiced a drill with one of them. As far as the kid in the article goes, I'd rather have a guy like him than one guy who beat one of our girls and made a licking face during one part of the match.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  7. eric

    I find it amazing how this kid is getting beat down for doing what he feels is right. If he would of wrestled her the same people that are beating him down about this would of gripped that he went thru with the match. Give the kid a break its not to often that kids actually stand up for what they belive in.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  8. Darin

    I wonder if people would be as upset if it was a male amateur boxer who refused to box a female. Not that male amateur boxers are put in that position in the US (at least as far as I know), but they could be if some commissions made it so.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  9. anup

    I think he knows he is going to loose. Just putting up a religious front its sport he is scared .

    February 23, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  10. Scott

    It's as simple as this. When a boy wrestles a girl it is a no win situation. The boy wins, big deal he beat a girl, or worse yet, he humiliates her, or ends up in an compromising position. The boy loses he loses to a girl and may be subjected to humiliation by his peers. The simple fact is boys and girls develop differently. A 100 pound girl can be much more developed in strength and overall physical maturity than a boy of the same weight, she could be a few years older, etc., and thus have greater advantages over a boy of the same size. As adolescents boys and girls should not be competing against one another in the sport of wrestling for a number of reasons, not least of which is demonstrated by the low brow nature of many of the comments exhibited on this board. These kids, the boys and the girls, should not be subjected to those that would look upon them with a perverts eyes or those seeking some kind of greater feminist validation. The sport of wrestling is intended to match to opponents of basically the same size and strength against one another to determine their mastery of the sport. When kids are not matched appropriately there is great risk of physical harm. For that reason girls should wrestle girls in weight classes that are appropriate with female development, and not with boys based on boys weight classes. In every instance where you here of girls wrestling boys in state tournaments its always lightweight girls against young lightweight boys. Girls can not compete with boys when they get over 120 pounds, and they put themselves at risk of serious injury. Nothrup should be commended on having the courage to take the forfeit, he may never get another crack at the state tournament. The state of Iowa should be embarrassed for not accommodating girls that want to wrestle appropriately.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  11. kkjkk

    well i respect his decision

    February 23, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  12. ket

    shouldn't the girl be explaining why she wanted to wrestle a boy?

    February 23, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  13. ocorrea

    TheOracle8191... there is much violence in the bible. Including the first ever recorded killing! It is not told ever in the bible that u cant engage in sport, even if its combative. he had his own person beliefs that were tied into being a Christian. And he dtood up for what he believed in. would u ever stand up for what u believe in? or just follow the mob and kick that girls azz?

    February 23, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  14. Chevrox

    Does the "respect" defense mean by analogy that it's okay to disrespect fellow men by "looking at them as objects to be defeated" and by "groping or slamming" them?

    Perhaps not, I think he just prefers to grope boys.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  15. liza

    You're a true gentleman, Joel. I hope you'll find a real lady who deserves you.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  16. Thea Bazzini

    He did not treat her with "respect and dignity". He basically insulted her by keeping her from doing something she was good at merely because she was a girl. I suspect that he secretly was afraid that she might beat him.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Deb

      You're an idiot. Your thought pattern is skewed. Are you one of those radical feminist types? He did treat her with dignity and respect based on HIS beliefs. You have a confused views if you think he insulted her by “keeping her from doing something she was good at…” Based on his beliefs, he would have disrespected himself if he went through with it. He was afraid to lose? So let me get this right… In order not to lose he lost? You are an idiot.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • TB

      Maybe he did loose not to loose? Maybe, to him, it would have been much better to forfeit to a girl than to get beat by a girl in a match, which would have been a possibility. I'm not saying that's how he thinks, I don't know the boy. I have a son who is also a Christian and plays ice hockey, another rough sport, in a league that has some girls in it. I've never heard of a boy refusing to play because there was a girl on the ice. That would be an insult to a fellow athlete.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  17. Gikbul

    I would do the same. i.e refuse to fight a woman. I don't know how a woman's body work. Some parts of their body may be too delicate and I would feel sorry if i hit too bad in some areas. Eventually that may lead to her victory. I can freely fight a man.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  18. Andrea M

    Removing the religious aspect, I commend the kid. Chivalry is far too uncommon these days, lost in a maelstrom of womens lib and the general dumbing down of culture. For a young guy to stand up and say "no, I will not grab a woman and slam her to the ground even in the context of sport" shows that he wishes to treat us with respect, not that he is just unwilling to wrestle a girl because girls shouldn't wrestle. Some day this kid is totally going to sweep a girl off her feet by treating her with kindness and respect rather than just as some chick to hook up with.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • chivalry

      Chivalry is dead. And should stay dead. It has no place in an equal society.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Nancy

      To each their own, and if he wants to be "chivalrous", more power to him. Not for nothing...but if every other sport has a woman's league, why doesn't wrestling?

      February 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  19. Marge

    That boy is skin and bones. No wonder he didn't want to fight her. He would have lost.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • Nancy

      the girl was even skinnier than he was though. I thought those Iowa folk were supposed to be corn fed?!

      February 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • nick

      He is actually one of the State's best wrestler in his weight class. If you knew anything about the sport and weight classes you wouldn't have posted that awful statement.

      February 23, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  20. Rofliamsmarterthanyou

    He didnt know where that foul woman's hands had been.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:42 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.