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. LK789

    If only all men thought this way! 🙂

    February 23, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • Chris

      As if men don't already cater to the female needs? As if its not already ingrained that its not ok to hit a women no matter what? As if opening doors for them isn't a big deal? As if feminists dont increase the amount of double standards....

      February 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Daniel

      Yes...if only all men refused to face women on a level playing field when she chooses to be there. It would be great if we were all so disrespectful...

      February 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • Chris

      @Daniel If only my comment were more short and to the point like yours, lol

      February 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Bubble Gum23

      Exactly! I was thinking the same. Well great minds think alike:)

      February 23, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • oneStarman

      I remember working on a Survey crew with a women many years ago. At first I thought "Why not" She insisted that she could do her job just as well as any man, "oh by the way can you carry this for me?" she COULD pee by the side of the road like us – but she really got annoyed when she crawled under the electric fence (like us) and her Milk Squirted when she accidentally touched the wire.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  2. M

    Ninjas do not know gender. Ninjas only know victory. Truly, these are not ninjas.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  3. Iowan

    To anyone who says he is afraid of losing: I'm not saying she couldn't have one, but he had refused to wrestle her earlier this year at a Duals meet, and his team moved up a wrestler so they wouldn't take a forfeit. The other wrestler pinned her. He was 35-4, so give him a break on that.

    Some of you would be the people on here commenting at a picture that went viral of him with his hands on her chest during the match if he had chosen to wrestle her. He's a good kid, and well spoken, and I think this whole situation, on both sides, makes me proud to be in Iowa!

    February 23, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • Californian

      "Proud?" I guess you Iowans have to take what you can get.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  4. Kerri

    Wow. I'm impressed. In this world, it's always a pleasant surprise to find a young person willing to stand up for his beliefs, no matter what. God bless you, Joel.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  5. anup

    Are there any other girls in the tournament and if yes did this boy compete with them ? is my question

    February 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • Iowan

      One other girl in the tournament in a different weight class. No one else defaulted in the tournament that was scheduled against either girl.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  6. morris2196

    In my generation, boys were taught not to touch girls in certain areas. Simply out of respect. Wrestling by its very nature entails touching in those areas. I can understand his decision.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  7. Jeffperts

    What the boy did was right. Women, no matter how unreasonable they might seem sometimes, should be treated with respect but women I believe should not abuse this privilege. To this young man, hats off to you.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  8. Mansur

    Lol at these comments, I think we forget the original purpose of sports were to train military. It only later became a source of entertainment. I feel like women and men should play sports together that do not involve contact. Football, Wrestling, Hockey etc...after a certain age men become far stronger and faster and more aggressive than most women. It can become dangerous. And who wants to see a man slam a girl...this is not the Andy Kaufman Show!

    February 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  9. nkprto

    he done the rigjht thing

    February 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  10. Mike

    It's utterly ridiculous that boys and girls are allowed to compete together in this sport. Whether a girl can compete on that level isn't the point. I admire this kid for his convictions. Women are to be cherished and protected by men, not groped, grappled, and overpowered by them. Where are the feminists?

    February 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  11. Will

    I wrestled when I was younger, and I was also put in a position where I was going to have to wrestle a female, and I also refused. No one minded my decision at all, not even my coaches. In wrestling, many of the techniques used involve touching either a person's chest, or their groin area. Neither of those places are very comfortable for a boy to touch when he is wrestling a female wrestler. I can remember plenty of times in wrestling when I was basically forced to grab a kid between his legs to keep him on that mat, and let me tell ya, thats uncomfortable. I couldn't imagine doing that to a girl wrestler. This kid made all the right calls here. Good for him.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  12. Capt. Huffnpuff

    Apparently the lad spends more time in wrestling practice than reading the news. He seems to have missed the part were women are active front line combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan, with real live bullets and bombs whizzing around. The girl seems to have been able to take care of herself and make the state championships. In a nutshell, he's an idiot.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • hillytoo

      There's a big difference between professionally trained soldiers and a high school wrestling athlete.

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

      Technically woman aren't frontline combatants. They are not allowed by US law to be frontline combatants. Do they take live fire at times? Yes, they are heroes. But really you should be more careful in your assertions.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • Edgar

      What does a female soldier have to do with high school wrestling? Female "front line" soldiers are anything but, however, pulling a trigger and pressing buttons is very different from hand-to-hand combat or wrestling. Men and women are physically DIFFERENT so in a physical sport there is a need to make the playing field as even as possible. As the kid said, he respects female wrestlers and feels they should compete against each other; I don't think that is unreasonable. To repeatedly bring up a comparison with military duties is asinine and disrespectful. Ability and appropriateness are two very different things.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Will


      You are way out of line for calling this kid an idiot. Read the article again. He clearly lays out why he made his decision, and I can't find a single thing wrong with his explanation. I think he deserves your respect, even if you don't agree with him.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  13. mr freedom

    Yep the bible has 1 female in it nor any Chinese nor Africans nor.........
    where were they?
    It's a big folk tale and many still believe it ,whatever I to
    think he was afraid of losing to a girl and his Christian humiliation would
    just be to much.lol

    February 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • Mansur

      And you know this how? I mean you speak from a position of knowing all about what happened 2000+ years ago. I mean, I guess you have the answer to what happens when we die...huh...nothing!!...man I rather be a Christian.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • laura

      I'm sorry but your comment makes no sense. Obviously you have never read the bible and are just believing what other people tell you about it. There are many women in the bible, you might be thinking of the geneologies? hopefully (but there are even a few women in those).
      No there are no chinese people mentioned in the bible. You are right. (seriously?)
      No sane historian would suggest that the bible is completely fiction, that is not in question.
      What sane people disagree on is whether or not the god of the Jews is real and whether or not Jesus is his son.

      February 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  14. Kevin D.

    Good man.. or young man I should say.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  15. David G

    Who really cares? It is high school wrestling! I don't think she should be competing with them. Women physically are on a different scale. That said, I don't think that a woman could not win. Obviously women can compete at any sport and win. However, in the case of high school wrestling, I think that it should be boys versus boys and girls versus girls. But hey when I was 15 16 if you put a hot girl in tights and said roll around with her on the mat, I owuld have. I['m just sayin, it owuld not have been wrestling, it woul dhave been a very diffrent sport.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  16. Annabel Keys

    This young man is a stand out! Good for him! He has convictions that he is ready to display at he risk of being ridiculed. He is obviously not a follower. How refreshing and encouraging to see that young people know how to draw a line with their conduct,even if adults(school system) don't set that line for them. Congratulations to his parents.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • Capt. Huffnpuff

      He's a stand out idiot. Ask the women combatants in Iraqi and Aftghanistan

      February 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • Will

      Wow man, he is just a kid.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
  17. U.R. AnIdiot

    I have no brain and failed my high school math class

    February 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  18. Sheri

    The sad thing that he doesn't understand that if he truly wanted to respect her, he would have met her as an equal on the wrestling mat. Clearly she is good enough to go to state she understands the sport and that there is potential injury involved.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • Jen

      Fully agree.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  19. Chuck

    So it's okay to do those odd positions and groping to a guy. . . but not a girl? I'm lost.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  20. U.R. AnIdiot

    I have no clue what im talking about... im so drunk!

    February 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • jake22

      Good for you, at least you're making sense.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:43 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.