This winter, University of Connecticut women's basketball player Nykesha Sales saw her college basketball career come to an end. She ruptured her Achilles tendon while chasing a rebound. The sad part is that this occurred when Sales was only one point shy of becoming UConn's all-time leading scorer. What transpired after this injury has stirred national debate.
Before UConn's next game against Villanova, the UConn coach and Villanova coach arranged to let Sales score a basket to break the UConn record. So, as the game started, Sales limped onto the court wearing a cast. Off the tip, the ball was thrown to where she was waiting under the basket. Sales turned, put in the uncontested basket and the record was hers. Villanova was then given their uncontested basket and the game started with a score of 2-2.
Some have called this good sportsmanship while others have called it a travesty. Either way, the event will not go unnoticed. Without this record, Nykesha Sales still would have been remembered as one of UConn's greatest players, but the way she broke the record has hurt her and women's basketball.
Injuries are a part of sports. They can happen anytime, anyplace. Players must learn to deal with them. What if Cal Ripken Jr. had sprained his ankle severely the day before he broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive game streak? Would he have gotten an at-bat just so he could break the record? I don't think so. He would have thought what Gehrig had gone through. He would have realized Gehrig deserved the record and it would be a mockery to go for a staged at-bat. The few athletes who don't play for the money definitely don't play to break records, either. They don't care about statistics; they only care about winning. Nykesha Sales could have kindly said no when her coach offered her this gift, but she accepted it and showed what is important to her. Nykesha Sales is now the University of Connecticut's all-time leading scorer, but does she deserve to be?
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.