Iowa wrestler defaults rather than face girl

Posted By on February 18, 2011

It seems to me this would be a no-brainer in a world where rational, thinking, moral people oppose violence against women. But, somehow, if it’s a “sport,” we’re supposed to let our boys tackle/pin/etc. young women and desensitize themselves (and ourselves) to such violence. I can only shake my head. Good for Joel Northrup. He is taking a stand all men should.

Joel Northup, a home-schooled sophomore who was 35-4 wrestling for Linn-Mar High this season, said in a statement that he doesn’t feel it would be right for him to wrestle Cedar Falls freshman Cassy Herkelman. Herkelman, who was 20-13 entering the tournament, and fellow 112-pounder Ottumwa sophomore Megan Black, who was 25-13, made history by being the first girls to qualify for the state tournament. Black was pinned quickly in her opening round match.

“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,” wrote Northup. “As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that it 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.”

Read the entire piece HERE.

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About The Author

Mrs. Chancey is the mother of 12 children, all of whom keep the household bubbling with life, learning, and levity. Jennie co-founded LAF in 2002 with Lydia Sherman and has been delighted to hear from women all over the world who enjoy their femininity and love to cultivate womanly virtues.


8 Responses to “Iowa wrestler defaults rather than face girl”

  1. Mrs. Eva H. says:

    I actually saw a section on this on cnn and was pleasantly surprised at the comments. They had a man (comdedian) and a woman (wish I knew more about her) on to comment on the story. The man made a few jokes about maybe the boy being afraid to being beat up but it just fell flat. So the presenter turned to the woman and asked her if it was a matter of religion as the boy claimed or if he was sexist.
    The woman (young, early thirties I estimate) started with: “I think it is clear proof that chivarly is not dead!” She then went out to make the same arguments as you do, how we send confusing messages to our young boys that it is never okay to act agressively towards women and then all of a sudden they are supposed to ignore that it is a girl. And she added with a chuckle that she hoped the young men had an older brother, uncle, widowed grandfather, because she wanted to meet him.

    Seems the younger generation is slowly wanting to reclaim chivarly!

  2. Ana says:

    Three cheers for Joel Northup! I have the greatest respect for him…a true gentleman.

  3. Abbysmom says:

    Just curious. Would you feel OK about girls’ high school wrestling? The link that Jennie Chancey provided said that a few states had wrestling tournaments for girls’ teams. And although we shouldn’t necessarily imitate the world, women’s wrestling is a sport in the Olympics.

  4. Thanks for the comment, Abby. I really don’t see a point to girls learning to wrestle (or box or do other combat “sports”). I have no problem with girls learning basic self-defense and street smarts, which are (sadly) really needed in our modern world. But I can’t find where investing hours upon hours in roughhousing and fighting (even if it’s “only sport”) is edifying or productive for godly womanhood in the long-term. For that matter, I’m not keen on a lot of boys’ sports, either. I think boys need healthy competition as outlets for all that developing testosterone, and all children need good outlets for physical activity (running, climbing, playing, etc.). But many sports are just vast wastes of time (not to mention money). My husband regrets all the time he put into basketball and baseball as a young man and wishes he had done more productive things to prepare himself for manhood. He and his younger brother started a landscaping business when they were able to drive and loved all that good, productive, outdoor work (and they were also able to help some elderly folks gratis). If you read the literature from the 18th-early 20th centuries you find girls taught to ride horses, hike long distances through nature, and even fence elegantly (see “The Swan” with Grace Kelly for an example of the grace and beauty of fencing as it was taught to women in times past). But I’m just frankly disturbed by girls learning to box and fight. Men should be trained to fight well and defend their homes and firesides. But toughening up women only makes men calloused towards them (“Why should I help you when you can do it yourself?”). I’d much rather see my girls pursue projects and activities that will prepare them to be godly young women who honor and respect each other rather than compete with one another as combatants. Just my two cents!

  5. bandersenz says:

    Very interesting. We homeschooled our boys in the late 80’s early 90’s and our stance was the same. My son, (age 12)when knowing he would eventually be faced with having to wrestle a girl expressed, “I don’t feel right doing that…like where am I supposed to grab her? It’s just wrong.” Of course, we all agreed. The other side of the spectrum that these boys have to deal with is the team usually implores them to “pin ’em” and “show ’em who’s the man”. Our concern as parents was more of the pressure put onto these boys with girls in their “realm”. We know they are created to honor, protect and respect girls. We, as parents, have the responsibility to encourage them in that.
    Also, the topic of normal bodily functions/reactions which may result innocently while on display on a wrestling mat in front of an entire gym full of spectators and never felt that it was right or fair. We have always been outspoken on this subject and still continue to help with wrestling tournaments and engage in this conversation much. Thankful to see that it was recognized and publicized to a wider audience.

  6. Abbysmom says:

    Hi Jennie,

    I agree with you and the others who have commented about Joel Northrop and the young women in the Iowa H.S. wrestling tournament — it is a bit over the top.

    And it was interesting to read about the sports and exercise that young women did in the past — sure wouldn’t have guessed fencing!

    But after thinking about the idea about co-ed high school sports, I can think of several ones that aren’t contact sports but have some precedent and are things you can actually do long after graduation is a distant memory.

    (1) Mixed doubles have been part of tennis for a long time. And the guy and the gal work together rather than compete against each other.

    (2) I’ve know of at least a few schools that have co-ed golf teams competing in the same league as their other sports. Again, it’s working together as a team.

    (3) Co-ed bowling teams. I’ve never heard of any high schools who have co-ed teams (where we live there are separate boys’ and girls’ teams). But I played on an intramural co-ed bowling team for 2 years in college and it was a lot of fun.

    WRT to high-school girls’ sports, basketball doesn’t bother me but I realize that others might not like it because of the contact aspect. But that’s not a part of flag football, track and field (if a young woman finds throwing a shot put or discus no one will force her), cross-country, skiing, swimming (you can find swimsuits with good aerodynamics that don’t look like the suits from the roaring 20’s that aren’t too revealing!). And hey, why not bring back fencing again! Many here may disagree, but IMHO none of these activities will make young women less feminine unless they want to be.

    I think your husband has a good point about getting too involved with organized sports can hinder a young person’s development. So many who make it into big-time college athletics seem like middle schoolers in young adult bodies.

    Thanks for allowing me to comment, even though many of your readers may not agree with many of my views on this issue.

  7. Artemis says:

    I am very much appalled and sickened at Joel Northrup’s decision to back out of his match against Cassy Herkelmen. Being a woman in martial arts, I sympathize with Cassy; I work my hardest to be the best that I can be at the sport and when someone refuses to fight me because of my gender I am offended and hurt. Gender should not be a limiting factor for competitive sports.

    There is a difference between intentional violence (something deeply frowned upon, and rightfully so) and use of force in competitive sports. Just because a boy faces a girl in a wrestling match does not mean he is being abusive or violent towards the girl; it only means that he is acknowledging a woman as his equal by honoring her wish to compete. Also, isn’t violence in general discouraged? If it is not okay to be “violent” towards a girl in a competitive sport, then why is it okay to be equally “violent” towards another boy? Intentional violence should be abhorred whether it is directed to a male or female.

    I do hope you allow my comment to be posted, even though it is extremely contrasting to those that have been previously posted.

    Thank you


    P.S. If it is not okay for boys to wrestle girls because of the sexual implications, then isn’t it worse for boys to wrestle boys?

  8. Artemis, the point is that, for millennia, men have trained from boyhood to protect and defend their homes and families; to go to war; to kill if necessary. Training men to face combat means teaching them to fight other men–not other women. If you spend all of a boy’s childhood desensitizing him by allowing him to wrestle, punch, or pin girls down, you are essentially training him to war against women–to see them as combatants rather than as worthy of protection and honor. All Christian societies have protected women and children–home and hearth. It’s just that simple. Go over to Iraq, Iran, and other Islamic cultures, and you find women as victims in combat, even if they are not soldiers. They are raped, mutilated, and murdered. These cultures do not train their boys to value and protect women. We live in East Africa, and my husband works in Sudan. Women are treated with disdain and brutally murdered by the Islamic regimes of Northern Africa. Here in Kenya, there is a campaign to prevent boys from beating up girls, because their (pagan) culture sanctions hitting women to get them to do what men want. Christianity is so radically different in its treatment of women that it turns this ugly view of women on its head. But it is taking a long time to teach men to value women, to honor them, and to treat them with kindness. Having boys wrestle girls would only reinforce the awful behaviors we are trying to combat here. Boys in the West rest upon the 2000-year-old foundations of Christian teachings to protect, honor, and respect women. Unfortunately, modern, post-Christian culture is doing all it can to whittle away that foundation or treat it as old-fashioned and foolish, but it will not result in greater respect and honor for women. We will simply go back to the dark ages of the ancients, where women were considered toys, chattel, and property. We need to stop and think before we decide such steps are good ones.

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