A not so classic boy meets girl on a wrestling mat story. Boy (Joel Northrup) qualifies for Iowa state wrestling tournament. So does girl (Cassy Herkelman). Boy and girl are scheduled to compete against each other first round. Boy respectfully decides not to wrestle girl and defaults the match. The world is now in an uproar.
Joel explained his decision to default to Cassy, one of the first two girls to qualify for the tournament in its 85-year history, by saying:
“As a matter of conscience and my faith, I do not believe it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner.”
“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 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.”
Cassy’s father, Bill Herkelman, responded to Joel’s decision by saying,
“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.”
Joel’s father is a minister at Believers in Grace Fellowship, an independent Pentecostal church in Marion. Their pastor, Bill Randles stated,
“We believe in the elevation and respect of woman and we don’t think that wrestling a woman is the right thing to do. Body slamming and takedowns, that full contact sport is not how to do that.”
Should Joel be applauded for standing up for his religious beliefs and trying to respect a woman by not wrestling her? OR Should Joel have decided to show Cassy respect by wrestling her based on her skills, not her gender?
What do YOU think?