During the first centuries of Christianity, Christians were thrown to lions in arenas to be jeered by mocking crowds. Today, Christian athletes face the taunts of a media strongly opposed to their faith.

No Christian athlete draws more media catcalls than New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. CBSChicago.com writer Dan Bernstein dismissed Tebow as “little more than an affable simpleton” and slammed his fans as “lunatic-fringe cultists.” Columnist Rabbi Joshua Hammerman of The Jewish Week expressed his desire that Tebow’s Broncos would lose a playoff game because a Broncos victory would “buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants.” Radio host Craig Carton was the latest to jump on the anti-Tebow bandwagon, calling him a “fraud” and complaining that he “clearly thinks he is Jesus” on his August 14 radio show.



A frotteur is someone — usually male — who takes aberrant pleasure in rubbing his fully clothed groin area against someone else — usually female — generally in a public place, say, a subway, perhaps a funeral parlor. The frotteur is a pretty weird duck. The word is obviously French in derivation, and it unsurprisingly has an arty origin. Frottage is "the technique or process of taking a rubbing from an uneven surface," according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "to form the basis of a work of art."



It's so easy to look at teenagers in general today and sigh. They’re more than a bit lazy, a bit spoiled, and more than a bit morally compromised. Two teenagers made national news. One showed common decency and sportsmanship, two virtues seemingly uncommon in that generation. Hope is restored.

Fifteen-year-old wrestler Joel Northrup faced a dilemma when he was scheduled to wrestle Cassy Herkelman, one of only two girls to make it to the state tournament. Even though he entered with a 35-4 record, Joel forfeited rather than violate his religious principles.

Cassy’s father, Bill Herkelman, praised the Northrup family: "That's their belief, and I praise them for sticking to it. This is the biggest stage in wrestling in the state, I would say, and they stuck to their beliefs when it probably tested it the most," he said. "It was probably a tough pill for him to swallow."



On Tuesday I wrote about how ESPN.com's Rick Reilly slammed 16-year-old Iowa wrestler Joel Northrup for his decision to forfeit a state tournament wrestling match against 14-year-old freshman Cassy Herkelman, citing his religious convictions about the impropriety of wrestling a girl.

Reilly mocked Northrup's beliefs as "wrong-headed," oddly comparing his refusal to wrestle Herkelman with someone using their religion to justify "pok[ing] the elderly with sharp sticks."

But it seems Reilly is an aberration with his bigoted vehemence, so I thought it good to point out a sports writer who commended Northrup's decision -- even though he respectfully disagrees with it -- and challenged America's kids to stay true to their convictions.

So kudos to Washington Post "Kids Post" feature writer Fred Bowen, for his February 24 article, "Honoring your beliefs makes you a winner."

Here's an excerpt:

 



Don't 52-year-old sports writers have anything better to do than devote a whole column to deriding a teenage athlete's faith?

If you're Rick Reilly, apparently the answer is no.

Reilly wrote a February 19 piece at ESPN.com trashing the religious convictions of 16-year-old Iowa wrestler Joel Northrup, who forfeited a state tournament match rather than wrestle 14-year-old Cassy Herkelman, citing his Christian faith.

Even though the Herkelman family and another female wrestler in the state tournament lauded Northrup's decision to be true to his convictions, Reilly mounted his  secular pulpit to condemn Northrup's faith: