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. rusty shackelford

    If girls can play boys sports , then the boys must be allowed to play on the girls team. The girls volleyball and field hockey teams will be all boys.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      yeah just a pity that the wrestling was not actually labeled as 'boys wrestling'

      February 23, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      What what Jesus do?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  2. Haha

    "biblical Christian principle of treating women with respect and dignity" hahaha.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • tim Ricard

      Ideally that is true. Christianity is one of the factors for the liberation of women if you read any history beyound the modern era

      February 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • darkhorse84

      That's what I was thinking...

      February 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • joe

      Beat your wife and daughter, do you? I can tell...

      February 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • louis mason

      This guy didn't want to risk a loss to a girl & he wasn't sure that he could beat her. We ALL know that this is waht happened.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Laughable, right? "I ain't gonna wrastle no girl. What's she doin' on the mat and not in the kitchen makin' me a sammich?"

      February 23, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Hugo

      That's the best you got?

      February 23, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  3. Bubba

    I just want to know what that thing is on her head. I don't recall any male wrestlers wearing a bag on their head.

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

      That was a thing. That's what it was. Could be a bag though.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  4. Snowangel_66

    I agree with people who commend the boy for standing up for what he believes in. Kids now days are more followers than leaders, this just shows his ability to think for himself and not let others influence his actions.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      How do you know that?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  5. man_bear-pig

    Sounds like someone was scared of being beaten by a girl! LOL!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Boy, if they would wrestle and she wins, he sure wouldn't want to marry her.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  6. sandy

    Nice to know there are some decent kids out there . I watched him on cnn this morning .... he is a moral decent kid
    something the world does not understand

    February 23, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Or maybe a chicken

      February 23, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  7. Blunttalk

    First off Northoff was in a no win situation. Only a true brute would be totally agressive in a match with a girl. He seems a gentlemen which is so uncommom, no one can fathom it. So he would more than like not use moves that he would normally use of try to take it easy enough to just win. So he wrestles and wins then he is a bully or he was support to win. He wrestle and loses, whether he takes it easy or not, he is ridiculed. He forfiets and his character and ethics are questioned. I applaud him and may he be inducted into the knights of Camelot.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  8. Marcus

    Sorry.... I don't get Christians... I really don't....

    Here is what the dad said about his son decision

    "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 to be, in some cases, groped or slammed."

    So as Christian it's ok todo that to another human being as long as they are not females???

    Should he be fighting at all? Should he be looking another being with no respect and as objects to be defeated on the wrestling mat. Slam or grope people as long as they are not women...

    What would Jesus do??

    February 23, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Superchik1017

      This really has nothing to do with Christianity. The bible condones female slavery. What a bunch of bull! This kid just didn't want to get beat by a girl.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • lorne

      jesus is dead.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Brotha C

      It doesn't really matter if u understand christians or not. Obviously, If your not one and u dont study the word in faith its probably a good chance u wont understand. Some people just aint cool with body slammin girls regardless. I bet u had he wrestled her and paralyzed her after slamming her on her neck, they would rethink puttin females on that mat!

      February 23, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Maybe box with her.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Now you got me thinkin. What..would..Jesus do? Did Jesus box? If so , would he box a girl? We will probably never know for sure.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  9. Superchik1017

    If only all men were like this. Take this kids example boys – just step aside and let the girls play!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  10. anup

    they both trained and got to the postion were they can be state a champion
    and the boy because his personal weakness stoping the girl to be The Champion . Boy is protecting his future so he dosnt have to say that he got beat by a girl .

    February 23, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  11. George Guadiane Austerlitz, NY

    How would this good Christian boy feel about wrestling a Gay man?
    If he has wrestled more than 10 guys, there is a better than even chance that he has.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  12. daniel1012

    the dad said women should be treated with respect and dignity and not wrestled to the ground like a dog.... so its ok for two guys to treat each other like dogs then?

    February 23, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • George Guadiane Austerlitz, NY

      And what if one of them is a Gay "dog?"

      In talking about Christian values and respect, I don't think this family has thought this through.
      I would think that this guy would be horrified if he thought there was "Gay" touching going on.

      I'm only interested because I have not seen anyone bring it up. And for "Right" wing "Religious" types that seems like an automatic no no.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  13. C Peterson

    The young man that elected not to wrestle with the girl has more dignity and maturity than the adults that would put him in that position to have to make that decision.
    There are many reasons why males and females should not compete with each other.
    Many in the society are dysfunctional and need to satify their perversions without involving non adults.
    Personally, I have great respect for Joel and very please to know he took a stand.
    As for the female that want to wrestle with a male, fine example of dysfunction.
    If the male/female are adults in agreement,than go for what ever pleasures you want.
    Great job Joel!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  14. Charles

    The girl knew what she was signing up for when she decided to wrestle. In the context of sport, respect means playing your best, regardless of your opponent. I feel that it's incredibly backward of him to give this explanation.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Justin Time

      You obviously don't have children.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Josie F.

      He is a youth standing up for his beliefs and taking a loss. You are an adult posting in a chat room forum. Who cares what you think?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee


      February 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  15. Mitchell

    He probably just didn't want to risk getting beat up by a girl in front of all those people. Wimp.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Michelle


      February 23, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  16. megan

    He clearly wasn't so much afraid of wrestling a girl because it would be disrespectful as he was afraid of losing to a girl.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Michelle

      Obviously? wow you are psychic?? Don't clown on this kid, he may grow up to be a good man, brush that chip off ya shoulder

      February 23, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  17. Justin Time

    From a physical standpoint, boys don't necessarily have a strength advantage at this age because his muscles aren't fully developed. Further, girls might have an advantage because they tend to be more flexible. Let's be honest – wouldn't it be a little awkward for a boy to have a girl touching his private parts or vice versa in a public place? Plus, the embarrassment that could result if he loses the match? There's very little up-side for the boy because even if he prevails, then everyone will say, "of course you won, it was a girl!" and if he loses will never hear the end of it.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • HJC

      Of course, he won? What about if he has to REALLY get rough with her to win? How will other girls in social situations view him after that? As a potential woman beater? What if he's ever accused (even falsely) of beating a woman in the future? Will his wrestling history be used to help incriminate him? There are so many ways this young man can lose in this match, even if he "wins."

      February 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Kid's scared of her.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  18. Diego

    Finish Her! Err No I mean...Massage Her! Wait, no....Make out with Her? Uhhh. I give up. I'm outta here.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Thats funny Diego!

      February 23, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
  19. Dr. B. Good...

    I love wrestling with women, especially naked!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • Lis Ramz

      He is a wise young man. Good example for others to follow. Congratulations.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee


      February 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  20. Joel's Right

    Well one must certainly consider the possibility that either or both participants can grow into an "excited" state with all the manipulation that takes place and that would definitely not have been cool at all for these two young wrestlers! I am with Joel on this one as I know he did the correct thing by refusing to wrestle with a female.

    I can't imagine the mentality of the school to pin a male against a female for wrestling purposes in the first place! What's next? Have them share a shower together as well? That is simply outrageous as some contact sports need to remain segregated for obvious reasons. I'm glad Joel has good Christian values! May God Bless him!

    February 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • CMC

      Are you implying that females shouldn't be given equal opportunity because males might become aroused? This is the same mentality that says if a woman wears a mini skirt, she's asking for 'trouble' because a man might become aroused. Can't men control themselves? And if not, is that a woman's fault?

      February 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Justin Time

      CMC, we aren't talking about a "job" in terms of equal opportunity. This is a sport. Grow up, you vile troll.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • lorne

      What does the position the boy takes have to do with his 'Christian' values.
      What if a sikh, or a jew, or an atheist etc. took the same position, do they become
      temporary christians?
      You christians just don't get it.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • JPC

      Wow, some of these responses are something else, but with freedom of speech we can all say what we want and of course all of our opinions are "right". I would like to see a lot more young men like Joel. God bless you Joel. Perhaps Iowa could look at separating girls and boys wrestling.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:22 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.