By Brian Shea
[Editor’s Note: Joel Murphy isn’t here this week, but then again, can you ever really prove that anyone is actually anywhere? When you get right down to it, your perception of other people is nothing more than light bouncing off of them which is then interpreted by your brain. For all you know, Joel Murphy and HoboTrashcan itself are simply figments of your imagination, parts of a world created entirely for you in your mind where you are the only real person alive and everyone else is just make believe.
So really, when you think about it, Joel not turning in a column this week is kind of your fault. So while you ponder the mysteries of this world and blame yourself for a lack of Murphy’s Law today, please enjoy this special guest blog post by former HoboTrashcan columnist Brian Shea.]
When wrestling makes the news, it is often for the wrong reasons. Sure, those of us who have competed or stay connected to the sport will never stop hearing the joke about tights vs. required uniform from The Breakfast Club. But there have been controversies about the safety of cutting weight and whether certain moves, shall we say, cross the line of sport.
This whole situation cropped up again recently when Iowa high school sophomore Joel Northrup defaulted to Cassy Herkelman in the first round of the state wrestling tournament. Herkelman was one of two girls to qualify for states in Iowa, the first time this had happened in state history.
So she also became the first girl to win a state match because Northrup, the son of a pastor, thought it was not “appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner” because of the “violence” inherent in wrestling. After the easy win, she lost two matches, one by a relatively close decision, and was eliminated.
I want to approach this from two different angles. Before I give my opinion, the historic nature of this is important.
Joel Northrup is some some poor schlub who had to make a choice. He finished third in the state as a freshman last year for Linn-Mar High School, the alma mater of defending NCAA champion Matt McDonough of the University of Iowa and former Hawkeye national champ Jay Borschel.
The school has had two state placewinners every year since 2002. Northrup, who is home-schooled, but competes for the school, went 35-4 prior to states. He ended up losing in the consolation rounds because defending 103-pound state champ Ty Willers was upset and beat Northrup 3-2 in overtime. He’s a pretty darn good wrestler, which makes his decision to pass up a state championship pretty interesting.
But that’s where I draw the line – at interesting. The news drew attention for good reason, but I think people congratulating Northrup for sticking to his beliefs are missing the boat here. If his family is truly instilling him with faith and respect, he would have wrestled Cassy.
She qualified for the state tournament. She deserves to be treated like any other competitor. She won matches in order to reach this pinnacle. She did not practice every day and work all season to be turned into a cause by someone else.
If life were perfect, states would have unlimited funds to run fully developed gender-neutral wrestling tournament. That’s not the reality though. Cassy Herkelman is a wrestler in the state of Iowa, not a girl wrestler. She didn’t make this about her, but Joel Northrup and his family decided to make it about him.
The sport of wrestling is not sexual or violent unless you want to look at things that way. Shame on the Northrup family for looking past the wonderful lessons that the sport has taught me and many others over the years. They may think they are doing the right thing, but they’re really only looking out for themselves.
Brian Shea used to write for HoboTrashcan, but like Gladys Knight, he left us Pips behind to write for his own site, Regular Guy Column.