BREAKING: High School is Awkward

… and wrestling makes it more awkward!

To Brendan Johnston, it was a simple choice. The 18-year-old senior wrestler from The Classical Academy in Colorado had never competed against a girl, and faced with the option to do so and potentially move one round closer to his goal of winning a state wrestling title, he instead decided to forfeit.

– the Washington Post

The article — and the kid himself — frame the decision around religion, which is totally fine. Maybe that’s what makes this weird for him. But I can tell you that 18 year old Nate wasn’t especially religious, and he definitely would have found the idea of competitively wrestling a girl to be a total no-go. Basketball, soccer, baseball, hell, even football, wonderful, let’s do this, let’s go, I’m ready to win, lose, or most likely of all somehow embarrass myself.

But wrestling? Does anyone else remember high school? This is a total no-win scenario in every way for this kid. There’s just no way I’m asking a teenage boy to leap into this minefield — in 2019 — and handle everything exactly the right way when we’re not even sure as a society what that way is yet.

Obviously his female opponent didn’t do anything wrong, unless you think it’s wrong for her to get really, really good at wrestling, which isn’t something that bothers either me or, from what I can gather, the boy in this scenario. And yet…

Gallegos, who started wrestling when she was 5, said Johnston’s actions weren’t “shocking,” because forfeits by boys happened a lot when she was younger. And even if Johnston didn’t want to wrestle, she knows other boys will. Proving them wrong is what she likes to do.

“You walk around before the match and you hear [the boys say], ‘Oh, it’s just a girl. I got this,’” Gallegos said. “And then after the match they come up to me and they’re like, ‘You’re really good!’ and it’s really funny actually.”

This seems like a giant misread of the situation. You can’t prove Johnston “wrong” in this scenario unless you were to somehow convince him that he actually isn’t uncomfortable wrestling a woman. You could, in theory, beat his ass into the ground and clearly demonstrate you are a superior wrestler (this at least seems to me to be what Gallegos is talking about proving), but all that would prove is that you’re a better wrestler than him. It totally misses the point that he just doesn’t want to wrestle women.

Now, I don’t know any of these kids, so it’s entirely possible whatever your pet theory here really is true — the boy in question doesn’t think a girl has the right to compete with him, he thinks women are inferior, unworthy athletes, whatever — but none of that is actually said here. And more in my lane, I know I do not think women are inferior athletic components (as getting annihilated by members of the 2001 University of Richmond women’s basketball team in multiple pickup games demonstrated clearly to me), but I also know I would definitely not want to go through this exercise myself, either. So his thinking is at least plausible.

But hey, I’m old now, what do I know. I may also be scarred from an after prom party altercation involving those big inflatable fighting suits and inter-gender physical combat. Teenagers, man.