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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. Andrew

    It's a great thing that he stood for what HE believed in, she and other people should respect his decision instead of calling him out because of his faith, just grow up and quit shoving your opinions down other peoples throats. Opinions are like Buttholes, everyones got one!

    February 23, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      I'll admit that when the story first broke, I had a bit of a preconception about the young man and his rationale. As I read the report I was considering that opinion as correct.
      Until his quote on his reasoning. Rather than hype, rhetoric, repeated quotes, he rationally explained his reasons and my only thought was and remains, "THIS is a fine example of a gentleman".
      As for his decision being right or wrong, it's right for him, hence it's right. It did not penalize the young woman and he happily accepted the consequences of his decision. THAT is something lacking all to often these days, it's called honor.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Truth

      Wzrd1, I strongly agree with you. That young boy could teach a lot of grown men who either forgot or just plain never learned.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  2. Blunttalk

    Just to let people know, Herkelman was pinned in her next two matches. Northrup won his next match by a major desicion and then lost by decision. Both were of course in the 112 weight division class 3A. The Iowa state tournament has three classes 1A, 2A and 3A.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  3. xzbit

    Good job for making the right and personal decision. Congratulation!

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

      Oh boy, lets give him a medal of honor. Kid is scared and now he is a hero. Love it.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  4. Mushrik

    i love girls mud wrestling....

    February 23, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  5. Aaron

    Personally i wrestled most of my high school career, and he should have fought the girl. I think he didn't want the humiliation if he lost. No one forced her to sign up to become a wrestler, no one stopped her because she was a girl. Wrestling is a sport, and both men and women play that sport. He was just looking for an easy way out. Normally at that age, girls are taller and bigger than guys anyway. Scary stuff for a little kid

    February 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Bingo. I think we're on to something now.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  6. biblical teachings

    BUT the bible says it is okay to grope a man?

    February 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Not on the sabbath

      February 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  7. Tina

    I respect a young man for making such a respectful decision. It was his decision and he made it for respectful reasons. Kudos to him!

    February 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Scared of her.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  8. Scott

    I admire this young man to hold to his convictions and I beleive that it should not reflect on the ability/ capability of his opponent. I think this should be a reflection on him and not on her.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      You're confused.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Hold on to this!

      February 23, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  9. Helion

    This week on Ultimate Surrender ...

    Not sure how groping another boys genitalia is so much better than groping a girls but at the end of the day it's his right to follow his beliefs and do what he thinks is appropriate.

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

      Sounds like you're groping a little here.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  10. Chuck

    God Bless you Joel Northrup ... You should know that the moral majority in America stands with you. It is better to forfeit the match than to forfeit your principles and beliefs. There is hope for the future of this country with young people like Joel whose leadership and courage are making the right decisions.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Please stop. I'm getting choked up now.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  11. The undertaker

    He should have ltterally flattened her or battered her, or maybe choked her out, that way the stupid pollitically correct crowd might see that it is not a good idea. If women are to be considered equal, lets have them in the UFC fighting lb for lb with the guys.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Voice of reason

      This makes more sense than most of what is being written here today.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Debbie Fischler

      I agree, allowing girls and boys to fight is just wrong.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'He should have ltterally flattened her or battered her, or maybe choked her out, that way the stupid pollitically correct crowd might see that it is not a good idea'
      You mean he should have treated her like any other opponent and fought her? I totally agree.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Lets do it!

      February 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
  12. Jim Massey

    The boy did an honorable thing in deed. The girl tried to push her way in a place she did not belong. The organization that allowed it did that just to be politically correct.

    For all the women who scream equal right, what do you think about allowing men to apply and compete in WNBA or LPGA?

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

      "The girl tried to push her way in a place she did not belong"

      Excuse me? Please crawl back into your misogynistic hole, tard.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • Kerry

      If there was an option for girls' wrestling in Iowa, she'd probably be doing that. If she wants to wrestle, this is her option. Men don't need to play in the WNBA because there is an NBA. There is not sanctioned girls' wrestling in Iowa. If she can compete on a level that gets her to the state tournament, that should be commended, girl or boy.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • Anonymous

      And of course, Jim's logic means that she shouldn't have left the kitchen.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Why not? Git er done. Absolute equality.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  13. Mark John

    I think she should wrestle Mike Tyson......what a joke

    February 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  14. Aggie

    Wrestling is a combat sport, and most of us grow up being told that men should never hit or be violent towards women, I can see how even in a sporting atmosphere it would be hard to let those ideas go.
    I think the bigger issue here is that there's not a girl's team. Wrestling was extremely popular at my school (in Alberta) and we had both a male and female team with lots of participants.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  15. Anthony

    Sounds like an excuse not to get beaten by a girl...

    "Ummm I don't want to wrestle her because...of...the bible!!! That's it!! Yeah the bible tells me that I can't, so there you go. Sorry everyone"

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

      Let's not be so shallow.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Chapter and verse please.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  16. PasoParent

    I agree w/the boy 100%. If my son were in a similar situation, I'd want him to make the same decision.
    BUT if he were ever forced to wrestle a girl, I'd tell him to look his opponent in her eyes, scare the life outta her, then do whatever it takes to kick her a$$.
    Girls should be able to wrestle...just have 'em wrestle other GIRLS!!

    February 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  17. tim Ricard

    I do have to say that it takes courage to be willing to forfit your dreams for your principles, rather one agrees or disagrees, this boy is more mature then many men, willing to sacrifice for his convictions

    February 23, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  18. EndTheFed

    Good for him for standing up for what he believes in. Winning means nothing to anyone but the victor. Why be victorious if it means nothing?

    February 23, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I mean, why put in effort and try when you could just pansy out?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  19. mattifolks

    Wrestling IS religion in Iowa. It's no surprise that this young man refused to wrestle a girl. It's just said that his parents have so warped his young mind with bible scripture instead of teaching him how to treat everyone with respect. It was disrespectful to this young lady to forfeit to her, when she obviously wanted to compete on the same level as her peers at school. Win or lose she stood toe to toe and did her best. He quit, period, despite his comments to the contrary. Did Jesus quit, son? Nope! Not even when, oh wait Im sorry that's just a fable, but you get the point...

    February 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Ginamero

      It's his conviction. He stood for what he believed in...you calling it quitting and I call it doing what you think is right even if others think you are wrong. I find this makes me think more of character than quitting. I admire this trait....then again, I'm FAMOUS for cutting off my nose to spite my face so we have different view points....always stand for what you believe is right, even if your standing alone.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • WJ

      Those wrestling uniforms are very tight; he was just afraid everyone would see just how much he liked wrestling with her.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  20. MH

    Brings back memories: Yes, I wrestled a neighborhood girl – a red head named Rossie. We were both around 11 or 12. I beat her and was real excited as she was said to be pretty "tough." When I announced my victory at home, though, my mother said I should not wrestle with girls as I might hurt them. She was the first and last girl I wrestled with.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • joe

      That's such a great story, MH. Can you please tell it again?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Jerry Senzee

      Yeah, Right!

      February 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
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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.