Rather Than Wrestle Girls, a Christian Athlete Forfeited the State Championship March 2, 2019

Rather Than Wrestle Girls, a Christian Athlete Forfeited the State Championship

A male high school wrestler in Colorado was competing for a state championship but gave up on that dream when he realized his bracket included two girls. Rather than wrestle them, he forfeited both matches and knocked himself out of the tournament.

Brendan Johnston explained that he couldn’t wrestle them because of his Christian upbringing.

“There is something that I really do find problematic about the idea of wrestling with a girl, and a part of that does come from my faith and my belief,” said Johnston, who identifies as Christian and said he attends the International Anglican Church in Colorado Springs. “And a part of that does come from how I was raised to treat women as well as maybe from different experiences and things.”

Here’s the question: Does Johnston deserve respect for having the courage of his convictions, or was his decision disrespectful to Jaslynn Gallegos and Angel Rios (not to mention the sport itself)?

I have a hard time coming down too hard on him. He knew he didn’t want to wrestle girls, so he forfeited the matches. He didn’t whine about it later. He only explained his reasoning when asked about it. And frankly, I’m not sure what else I could’ve asked for in that situation. I don’t respect his decision, but I respect his right to make it. The move was cowardly and sends the wrong message about the sport — as if the contact is sexual or unwholesome — but at least he accepted the consequences.

What I don’t feel is any pity for him. It’s not like he got dealt a bad hand; he chose to fold. The rest of us should roll our eyes and move on.

Feel some sympathy for the girls, though. All they wanted to do was compete on an even playing field, and Johnston denied them the opportunity to earn a win. But they moved on and placed well in the tournament regardless. He was merely a speed bump to their eventual success.

It probably won’t be long before Christian media outlets paint him as a hero, like he’s a Christian martyr in an anti-Christian world. Don’t believe that narrative. He’s the guy who gave up. The girls fought the tougher battle and deserve praise for their achievements. I fear they won’t get it, though, because too many people are going to celebrate Johnston’s Mike Pence-iness. That would be the wrong takeaway from the story.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Mike for the link)

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