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Wrestling Issues

Written by FM Staff  |  Found in: Dinner Dialogue
Wrestling Issues

Read the Article: "Girl Wrestler Wins After Boy Won't Face Her" -CBS News

Guys, when you were 12 or 14, were you ever forced to dance with a girl that you didn't know – maybe at school, or at a wedding?  When you are young it can be awkward and uncomfortable holding hands or putting your arm around someone of the opposite sex - especially when you don't know them.  Your personal space is violated, you feel like everyone is looking, and you have no idea what is going through her head.  Now, imagine you're expected to wrestle your dance partner to the ground, pinning her for a three-count.

Serve it Up!

Joel Northrup isn't twelve - he's sixteen - but when faced with task of wrestling a female competitor  in the Iowa State Wrestling Tournament - he said "no" to the idea. In a state where wrestling is a passion, Northrup sacrificed a chance to win the tournament, citing conscience and faith as reasons why: "wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times," said Northrup. "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." With a 35-4 record entering the tournament, he was a favorite to win it. He must have felt strongly to sacrifice so much.

  • Joel describes wrestling as a "combat sport." Do you agree that wrestling is too violent or physical for boys and girls to compete against each other?
  • What about other physical sports?  Football?  Hockey? Lacrosse?
  • What about less physical sports like Basketball or Baseball?  Where do you draw the line?
  • Joel's opponent, Cassy Herkelman, earned her way to the tournament by winning 20 matches herself, most against male opponents.  Don't you think that she deserved the same opportunity to compete?
  • Should the fact that Cassy, and other girls, are willing to accept the challenge of battle factor into the equation?

The reaction to Joel's decision from his competitors and their parents was nearly universally positive. Megan Black, another female wrestler, whom Joel refused to compete against earlier in the season, said "He, at least, is true to his beliefs and you have to respect that."  Most seem to agree that whether or not you agree with the decision, because it is based on a sincere conviction, it is highly regarded.  That strength of character; the willingness to do what you think is right, no matter the consequences, is recognized as an admirable trait.

Even though many agreed with his decision, Joel still sacrificed in order to make his stand. Wrestling involves difficult training, and a lot of it to achieve the level that Joel had risen to. College scouts surely would have been impressed by sucess at the state level. Joel Northrup sacrified the pain of training, the countless hours of work and the accolades of victory.

  • Was it worth it?

The Old Testament gives us several examples of men and women who were willing to do what was right, regardless of the consequences. Daniel's friends were willing to die in the furnace, rather than bow to a man-made idol (Daniel 3). Later, Daniel himself prayed obediently, despite the punishment of being thrown into the lions den (Daniel 6). While Daniel and his friends had much more on the line than Joel Northrup, but each showed a willingness to "walk-the-walk" when it comes to their convictions.  And besides, if we're not willing to sacrifice a sports title for our beliefs, how will we hold firm when much more is at risk?

  • What kinds of things do you and your family see as values worth standing up for?
  • What kind of price are you willing to pay for your strongest convictions?
  • How much, do you think, is God willing to ask of you during your life on earth?