The Forfeit

The Forfeit:

What an interesting story:

On Thursday, a girl won a match at the most historic high school state wrestling tournament in the country, but she did so in an even more unusual and controversial way than most had imagined possible.

According to the Cedar Rapids Metro Sports Report, Des Moines Register and Associated Press, among other outlets, Cassy Herkelman, one of two girls who qualified for the Iowa state wrestling tournament, won the opening match in her Class 3-A, 112-pound classification by forfeit when her scheduled opponent, Joel Northrup, officially reported and withdrew from the bout, earning a loss but ensuring he could continue to participate in later matches at the tournament....

"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."
I have a feeling that this reasoning is not going to win him any awards from the ladies of the Hall, who have often made a point of their desire to be engaged as an honest competitor. On the other hand, as a matter of freedom of conscience we must accept some space for people with differing views to live out their values, provided they are courteous about them and also willing to accept the consequences.

There's something elegant about his reason, too: that he is aware of the combative and violent feelings the sport brings out in him, and does not want to direct such emotions -- or violent, combative acts -- at a girl. That seems like a valid and reasonable objection, combining self-knowledge with values that oppose using physical force against women. I can't fault either point, even though I also see the value of free and honest competition.

Then again, I never found that wrestling brought out much aggression in me: it always struck me as a more mental and spiritual activity, more about analysis of their strengths and a kind of 'feeling through' their guard. In areas where I do feel strong emotions of violence, I would certainly also wish to avoid directing those at a lady. On those occasions when it has been necessary to argue fiercely against one, I have tried to rely on highly formal and courteous manners to ensure that it was done respectfully. That is not an option available here. Can you respectfully pin someone's head between your legs? Perhaps not!

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