Boys Wrestling Girls — A Clash of Worlds and Worldviews

by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

I, for one, am proud to know of a boy and a family who refuse to consider girls and women as proper opponents on a wrestling mat — opponents to be bloodied, gouged, and slammed. Joel Northrup may have defaulted a match, but he refused to sacrifice his Christian conscience for a moment of earthly glory.

The state of Iowa takes high school wrestling seriously. Iowans take wrestling so seriously, in fact, that the state wrestling champion among high school boys in Iowa is like “Mr. Basketball” in Indiana — a celebrity for life. Joel Northrup is only a sophomore, but the home-schooled student who wrestles for Linn-Mar High School went into the state wrestling tournament with a 35-4 record and high hopes.

Nevertheless, in his first match, he defaulted. Why? Because he could not by conviction wrestle against a girl.

In a statement released to the media, young Northrup said: “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassy and Megan and their accomplishments. However, wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times. As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner. It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most other high school sports in Iowa.”

For the first time in history, girls competed in this year’s Iowa state wrestling tournament. Cassy Herkelman and Megan Black became the first two girls to compete in the big event. Joel Northrup drew Cassy Herkelman as his first-round opponent. As the Associated Press reported, Joel “refused to compete against a girl at the state tournament . . . relinquishing any chance of becoming a champion because he says wrestling with a girl would conflict with his religious beliefs.”

The debate erupted immediately. Cassy’s father, Bill Herkelman spoke of his respect for Joel and the Northrup family. “I sincerely respect the decision of the Northrup family especially since it was made on the biggest stage in wrestling. I have heard nothing but good things about the Northrup family and hope Joel does very well the remainder of the tourney.”

As it turned out, Joel did not fare well in the consolation rounds, and Cassy lost a subsequent round, as well. There was apparently more talk about the match that didn’t happen than about the many matches that were completed. The national media attention quickly focused on Joel’s decision not to wrestle a girl….

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