I've always considered sports photography to be an under-appreciated genre of photography. Photojournalism, dance photography, jazz photography, fashion photography, are all seen on a higher level, so perhaps it's an accessibility thing. I prefer to make quality and originality the criteria.
As an example of this, I just came across this remarkable sequence of pictures showing unequivocally how Michael Phelps won the 100 meter butterfly by 1/100 of a second. The photographs were "taken" by Heinz Kleutmeier and Jeff Kavanaugh - Kleutmeier being one of the top Sports Illustrated photographers and Jeff Kavanaugh his assistant. As Vincent Laforet points out on his blog it's a rare event for photographers to share credit, but in this case the pictures were the result of so much collaborative planning, remote shuttering, computer synching etc., that the credit was both generous and appropriate.
The first picture (above) is a reminder of the trouble Phelps was in in this particular race. After 50 meters he was 7th of 8.
Phelps brought his hands down through the water and touched the wall .01 seconds before Cavic finished his glide to the wall, swiping the gold medal and tying Mark Spitz's record of seven golds at one Olympics.