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. ocorrea

    I am impressed with this young man... and would let him date my daughter!

    February 23, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Lee

      Your only standard is that your daughter's boyfriend won't fight women? You must be an excellent parent.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • clos

      to Lee, I'm sure his standards are higher. So idiots like you are ruled out.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • Lee

      to Clos, I'm the captain of my school's wrestling team and valedictorian of our class, so watch the name-calling.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  2. Ubercooldinosaur

    What he did was the right decision but girls should not be allowed in wrestling with guys. Now girls wrestling girls is okay, but I don't think girls realize guys CAN'T wrestle girls. First of all guys don't want to hurt girls, and girls sometimes take advantage of that. Also guys don't want wrestle their best when facing a girl because they don't want to accidently touch the girl innapproprietly. I know girls who brag that they beat guys in some physical sports, but they don't realize the guys are holding way back, and refuse to tackle.

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

      LOL to this. I bet guys all the time even when they tried and did there best. I was in automechanics and we use to wrestle all the time. I never took offense if they had to grab me the wrong way. But I am very proud of this young man to stick with his beliefs. If he didnt know the girl it would be totally different. The guys in my shop I was with them for 4 years so they are my family and they were my back up in high school. And each of them would of done the same thing if they did not know and did not believe I could handle it.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  3. Iowan

    After the match they interviewed both the boy and the girl on the local news and she was very respectful of his views and had no ill will against him for forefitting. I think it was very mature of her because she was obviously disappointed, but she respected his decision.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  4. Kris

    When I was in high school (over 10 years ago), we had male and female wrestlers on the school's team-and yes, they wrestled each other. Some of the girls were damn good, too! And no uppity parents complained, either. It seems like there are more people who support gender-role stereotypes now than just 10 years ago..sad.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  5. QS

    "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.”

    Strange, I could have sworn that the Christian principle of treating women was that of stay quiet in church, can be bought, sold or traded to another man, can be stoned to death for adultery....which I always found quite contradictory anyway to the "golden rule".

    Gotta love those hypocritical religious values that can be switched on and off at the convenience of the person claiming them.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  6. Adam

    First off this is old news and honestly, pretty boring news at this point. Northrup was the 5th ranked wrestler in the state at this weight class and a favorite to win. He had already refused to wrestle her in a local dual meet. She was pinned by their 103 pounder who replaced him. I doubt he had any fears of losing to her. For those of you on this site who read the same articles day in and day out about violence against women, I think it's commendable that this guy was willing to stand up for his convictions.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  7. Frank

    Good Job kid....Sticks to his convictions more than most adults I know..Very refreshing to see there is still some hope for todays youth.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  8. Mustaffa

    I think he is saying this for an excuse. I think he was just scared because he knew he was going to get beat up a girl.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  9. Richard Sciarappa

    All you folk scoffing at biblical christianity show your ignorance of both the bible and what it means to be a Christian. Jesus, a Jewish rabbi had women learn from him (something radical in 1st cen. AD). Also, Galatians 3:28
    There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
    I pray God will grant you eyes to see and ears to hear.

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

      Why did the boy treat her as if she was different? He did not treat her as an equal. Sure, women might be built differently. And sure, there might be different commandments for women in the Abrahamic faiths...But if a woman wants to wrestle with you, you do it. By turning her down, you are disrespecting her. No one should get special treatment. Only equal treatment.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  10. Justin


    February 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • Northview

      It's ok. There is nothing for you to be scared of.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
  11. Raoul Duke, Jr.

    You Christians never even read your own Bible. Here's what your Saint Paul, the true founder of the Christian church as you know it today, said in his letter to the Corinthians, specifically, Corinthians 14.33-35: . "As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. f there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. "
    So were is this alleged respect for women in Christianity? You all just twist the facts (actually, you dont' care about the facts since you believe dinosaurs and humans lived together) to suit your purposes.
    Give me a break. They are just trying to rationalize the fact that he didn't want to risk getting his ass kicked by a woman.

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

      The church Paul is writing to in Corinthians was known to have a disorderly way of conducting what we would call a church service now. The verses you refer to speak to instruct the church on how to have an orderly time of worship and preaching. People should not become disorderly during a service and blurt out, constantly interrupting. Meaning if the women did not understand the preaching or had questions, instead of constantly interrupting the preacher, they should ask questions after the service is over.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  12. Christopher Gudger-Raines

    I think that everyone did the right thing. The guy followed his convictions, the girl handled it with class and the tournament went on without them.

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

      I completely agree. Everyone acted maturely. If he didn't want to wrestle her, he has every right to forfeit, just as she has every right to wrestle. Obviously she wasn't that bad of a wrestler, because she made it to the state tournament in the first place. I wish them both luck next year.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  13. Ralph Dobes

    Christian convictions? I know more people who claim to be christians that get hammered and beat the hell out of their wife than any other religion. Look at the south for christ sake.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • HPS01

      You are an ignorant ass. The south is the only place where women are abused?

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

      Ralph – That is an excellent point!

      February 23, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • David G

      F U Ralph.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • jeff

      Yes – give me Islam any day they know how to treat a woman! You are a true man of insight

      February 23, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Northview

      Ralph I'm not sure what your point is but I did notice that you never mentioned wrestling in your quote.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  14. JamesM

    Wrestling a girl = spandex tent = embarrassing = refuse to wrestle.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  15. anup

    any guys who got beat by the same girl say about her level of tallent and skill in wrestling ? probably not cuz they are hiding now 🙂

    February 23, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
  16. Ran

    Girls should not be allowed to wrestle—period. Wrestling should only be done by gay boys.

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

      Why is that, Ran? Hard up for a date?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  17. Justin

    He should have wrestled. Not only did he forfeit, but he made her forfeit as well. He might have got whooped!

    February 23, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  18. Brett

    He will probably grow up to have a daughter and tell her "men do this", "women do this".

    Passed down from his Dad. I would bet any amount of money..

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

      So? What's wrong with respect for women being passed down by his father?

      February 23, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • Jonas

      girls wrestling in boys leagues is ridiculous. i have a daughter who golfs on a boys team and another daughter who is training to be kicker on the football team....but girls wrestling with boys is not a good idea....for obvious reasons. the boy was in the right the girl was just pushing the boundries

      February 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Lee

      It's not respect Allen. If it were he'd respect the womans right to wrestle at a level that suits her, not at some level he thinks women should be.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Truth

      Alan, I agree with you.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      What I find interesting is that HE never addressed whether or not she should or should not be wrestling with the boys class.
      He never said she should or should not do ANYTHING.
      But the lot of YOU want to tell people what they should do and whom they should do it with.
      HE stated his reasons and rationale for refusing to wrestle a woman. He did it in an intelligent and thought out way and was rational, not behaving as some religious extremist or fundamentalist. He stated flat out, he'd sacrifice a state championship if necessary.
      Hence, NOBODY was penalized, though he DID forfeit the contest with her. She advanced and apparently lost in later matches, as is the nature of the sport.
      If anything, from his statements, he is a fine young gentleman and should be an example to many here.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Ryan

      @Alan–you seem to be confusing respect with condescension. "Women are delicate flowers who shouldn't engage in physically demanding sports with men" does not stem from "respect". Forfeiting the match is the equivalent of saying "I am going to win because, well, men are superior in this regard–and I "respect" you too much to embarrass you".

      I mean, have you ever had someone refuse to play a game with the excuse "I'd beat you anyway and want to spare you the embarrassment of defeat"? Not only is this disrespectful it's also a huge cop-out.

      Because honestly, anyone who knows anything about wrestling understands that strength is only one component. You also need technique, a strategy, quickly react to your opponent's plan of attack, etc.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  19. Jez

    Christian, not Christian – any decent boy/man should have issues with physically challenging a woman (or girl). In this case, I think the "girl" over-reached. She may think she's tough, but (and I just don't understand women that don't understand this), men are and always will be physically stronger than women! Get over it! As it is, this female wrestler left the mat crying after she was defeated. No one should be pointing at this boy. This girl should wrestle in an all-girl league. If there isn't an all-girl wrestling league, don't blame the boys!

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

      Good point, well said...this should not have been delegated to the kid to make a decision...PC is like an octopus....tentacles are everywhere

      February 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  20. Truth

    Joel, even at such a young age, you've already learned how to be a REAL MAN. Many "grown" men on this board still haven't gotten it yet and probably never will. How sad.

    It was plain stupid to have a girl in there wrestling around with boys on a mat anyway. If you don't get that, you never will.

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

      Yep, women should remain barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.

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

      I agree, Truth. There's a reason for non-Co ed in most high schools in North America when it comes to physical education (even Canada.)

      February 23, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • ReggieG

      I meant to reply to Lee

      February 23, 2011 at 8:39 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.