Sunday, March 13, 2011

Boy v. Girl Wrestling

Perhaps you saw a story that made the rounds about two weeks ago, about a male high school athlete who forfeited a title rather than wrestle a girl competitor. This has been spun all different ways, according to the perspective of the source(s) publishing it. But, since it snagged my attention enough to actually post a response myself, I'm including a bit of it here.

As excerpted from Focus on the Family President Jim Daly's blog:

"This is a story about three people: a 16-year-old boy named Joel Northrup, a 14-year-old girl named Cassy Herkleman and popular ESPN columnist, Rick Reilly.

For context, Joel and Cassy are high school wrestlers from Iowa; Rick is a talented and often humorous sportswriter, prone to zany antics. (He was so certain our Colorado Rockies wouldn’t make the playoffs in 2009 that he threatened to lick Denver’s Capitol dome if they did. They did – and he did.)

That said, this story is really more about the distinctives surrounding gender than it is about these three individuals – or wrestling itself.

Here are the facts:

Last week, Cassy Herkleman was scheduled to wrestle Joel Northrup in the first round of the Iowa state high school wrestling tournament. But as you may know by now, Joel refused the match, walked off the mat and forfeited the round and his chance at a state title.


'As a matter of conscience and my faith,' he wrote in a statement, 'I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner.'

Joel, who is home-schooled, is also a pastor’s son. His father, Jamie, was strikingly blunt when speaking with the Des Moines Register about his son’s decision:

'We believe in the elevation and respect of women, and we don't think that wrestling a woman is the right thing to do. Body slamming and takedowns -- full contact sport is not how to do that.'

Rick Reilly [a professional sports writer]was not convinced. He wrote that Joel was “wrong” to refuse the match and that “If the Northrups really wanted to ‘respect’ women, they should've encouraged their son to face her.”
[End of Daly excerpt]

The link to the completle article is:

There were more than 1,200 responses to this blog post, and although I read many of them, I could not tell you the percentage of responders for or against the stand taken by this young male athlete. A couple of the more compelling responses included specific details about some of the wrestling holds, such as the "High C [crotch] hold", and the "Saturday Night Ride". I lack such indepth knowledge and have never been a fan of pugilism; however, this has never stopped me from having opinions, and the response I posted is as follows:

Kathleen says: The "right" thing to do is almost always the hardest of the available alternatives; which inevitably leads to the deeper issue of what constitutes "right"? As soon as right and wrong enter into the conversation, you've stepped onto moral ground whether you like it or not And this, in turn, begs the question: from what foundation, or by what plumb line is "right" v. "wrong" determined? This young man and his family do not hesitate to point out that their moral measuring stick is rooted in their Christian faith, a faith that I share.

My own opinion is that Mr. Northrup's decision to forfeit the match was the harder, more honorable, and more costly choice, and I applaud him and his family for it.

Those, who like Mr. Reilly, assert that not wrestling Miss Herkleman was not respecting her would do well to realize that Someone else's opinion comes into play here...and this is the ultimate divide. It is indeed the case, as Christ makes clear in Matthew 6:24, that 'No one can serve two masters.Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other." That's the reality; in this case, Mr. Northrup could be devoted to God or to the situation that would require him to deny his convictions...but he could not do both. He made the wiser choice by choosing to respect the Lord Who made him, and before Whom we each will give an account.

As for Miss Herkleman, while I can understand her disappointment, in my view, the situation exacts less of a toll on her than on Mr. Northrup. He not only lost the chance at a state title, and allowed it to default to Miss Herkleman, but he also has reaped (and I presume it was no surprise to him) controversy and ill will he never sought.

Aside from the issue of spiritual conviction there is the axiomatic truth that males and females, particularly after puberty, are fundamentally different---equal, but different. If you doubt this, aske yourself why women in combat are routinely raped by male enemy troops...and that this information usually is suppressed. Also consider the findings from studies, such as one conducted by the Israeli military a number of years ago, which found that male soldiers were more adversely affected by seeing their 'sisters in arms', or female troopmates, mistreated by enemy forces than when they themselves were harmed.

The bottom line is that males and females are distinct from each other, for profoundly wonderful reasons.

No comments:

Post a Comment