Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

Jesus Said Love Thy Neighbor and Wrestling Is For Boys

In Iowa, a girl named Cassy Herkelman won a match at the most historic high school state wrestling tournament in the country!  Yay!  Girl power!  Woo h- what?  Oh, yeah.  Also – she won by forfeit.

Can I just, for the sake of my ovaries, have a moment here?


And you’ll never guess why Joel Northrup decided to forfeit the match.  YOU might think it has something to do with the fact that Cassy has a vagina.  Well, YOU…would be right.  But only like a quarter right.  According to Northrup, it was a lot more to do with a little something called faith.

Northrup, a sophomore at Lin-Mar (Iowa) High, cited his personal faith as the motivating force for his forfeit. The withdrawal ensures he can finish no higher than third at the tournament, which follows his third-place finish in the 103-pound classification as a freshman.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassy and Megan [Black] and their accomplishments,” Northrup said in a statement given to the media following his official forfeit. “However, wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times.

As a matter of conscience and 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.

Joel has already learned the belief game as far as I can see.  Anything passes for kosher when you shellac it with that unquestionable and irreproachable veneer of faith.  OoOoOoOoOo.

The way I see it – Joel placed himself in that situation.  No one put him there.  He knew girls could wrestle in Iowa, he chose to wrestle, and then he chose not to wrestle.  All of that is fine – but it’s also his choice.  Saying that it’s unfortunate that he was put into a situation insinuates a certain amount of victim hood that doesn’t actually exist – he should be saying that it’s unfortunate that HE put HIMSELF in his position.  If he didn’t want to wrestle girls, he shouldn’t have signed up.

Of course, I’m assuming Joel knew.  Maybe Joel didn’t know.  Maybe girls being allowed to wrestle is new?

While girls have been allowed to compete as part of boys wrestling teams in Iowa for more than two decades, the 2010-11 season marks the first time that any girls have qualified for the state tournament. In addition to Herkelman, who you can see wrestling in the video above, fellow 112-pound wrestler Megan Black is also competing at the historic state tournament.

So, unless he wasn’t paying attention the last two decades, he most likely knew.  Did he…not imagine the possibility of having to ever wrestle a girl then?  I guess I just don’t understand why a guy would sign up for a sport where the possibility of him having to refrain from full participation in the sport because of his religious beliefs was present in the first place.  Or why he would try to play the incident off as if he’s somehow a victim of circumstance.  Now the first girl to ever win at that level in Iowa has to carry that title with the knowledge that it was a non-accomplishment made possible by a forfeit.

That sucks for her.

Her family took the news easier than I might have:

Though there was plenty of reason for disappointment, Herkelman’s father, Bill Herkelman, told the Des Moines Register that the family harbored no ill will toward Northrup whatsoever.

“My understanding is that they’ve got strict convictions [as a family], and I respect them,” Bill Herkelman told the Register. “I don’t have any ill will toward them and I don’t think it’s any kind of boycott about [Cassy Herkelman] being a girl.”

I appreciate the poise with which Herkelman responded, buuuuut…the decision was made because she’s a girl.  You can respect Joel’s ridiculous and archaic beliefs all you want, but just because his actions were based on religious belief, that doesn’t change the circumstances of the situation.  Joel is a boy who won’t wrestle a girl.  And hey – if I were a high school boy, I probably wouldn’t want to wrestle a girl either.  I know as a girl, I didn’t want to wrestle boys.  Not in a competitive setting, anyway.  High school was a weird enough time in my life without putting myself in that kind of position.  But you know what I did to ensure I wouldn’t have to wrestle boys?

I didn’t join the wrestling team.

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Helena Handbasket

Definitely takes the pressure off to losing to a girl.


…or being turned on.

Seriously, though…….whatever. This kid and his family just come off as ridiculous IMO. If I were Cassy, I’d shrug it off and tell him it sucks to be him.

Also, why the hell is a competitor allowed to continue after forfeiting a round? That makes no sense.

Dustin Rogers

I wrestled modified,junior varsity, and varisity in high school. i have also won may trophies and medals. I must tell you i would not have wrestled this young lady, but not out of fear of losing as some you have said, but rather because of the way i was raised to never hurt a women or put your self in a postion where i could possibly hurt a women. Even i did wrestle a women and won my parents would have taken away the car, and would have made me buy my own car, possibly kicked me out of the… Read more »

fred johnson

Personal responsibly ? A quality the religious seem to lack and make massive efforts of will to avoid

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