Would you wrestle a girl?
That’s the question Joel Northrup asked himself when he began his wrestling career and his answer... was no.
Northrup, a home-schooled sophomore who wrestles for Linn-Mar High, near Cedar Rapids, went 35-4 during the regular season, and was favored to win a state championship in the 112-pound weight class. Unfortunately for him, it ended before it could even begin. Northrup first-round draw was Cassy Herkelman, a freshman who is only the second female to ever qualify for the Iowa state wrestling tournament; sophomore Megan Black was the other to qualify; both occurred this year, the first time in the 85 year history of the tournament.
"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 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." This was the statement issued by the young man after forfeiting his match to Herkelman. This is not the first time he has done this; three years earlier he refused to wrestle Black. Northrup’s father is a minister at a local church and a statement from the church says that they ‘believe in the elevation and respect of woman and don't think that wrestling a woman is the right thing to do’.
This asks the question, should Northrup have been in this situation - should men and women compete against one another? I am a woman, and although I competed with guys in a practice scenario and was around guys from the beginning of my swimming career, races were never counted when guys and girls competed together. The reality is men are stronger then women, that is a no questions asked fact.
Wrestling is one of the few sports that does allow men and women to compete, and in allowing so, initiates physical contact, a lot of it. Another similar example to wresting is hockey. In women’s hockey there is no checking however if girls play with the boys then all bets are off.
Instead of turning this into a Title IX discussion, though revisions are long overdue, this is about the simple fact that it’s simply not fair to anyone invovled. Boys and girls should not be competing against one another, and I don’t care how good the girl is. It puts the boys in an awkward situation, as illustrated by Northrup earlier this week. And the girls, you think they're getting better competetion but are not, it does not prepare them for when they ultimately have to play with their own gender.
No one wins and in fact, in this scenario, no one did. In her second round match after the forfeit win over Northrup, Herkelman lost, 5-1, and was eliminated.