Hopefully people don't get scared by this puzzle having a sports theme. I still don't quite get the shade thrown at sports entries or puzzles. I've done plenty of music, literary, space, art, etc. themed puzzles. Not all are my cup of tea but all have merit. I've even had grief over including one athlete as an answer, namely, DIRK NOWITZKI. First of all, what a cool looking name. Secondly, he's totally worthy of puzzle inclusion. Thankfully that puzzle found a home outside of this blog. I always heard the same reaction when I would go to bar trivia and there would be a sports round. All the nerds (Yea maybe this is pejorative, but I was there, too, so I'm describing myself) would be up in arms. "How dare you ask a sports question? I need more questions about rock music or literature." There also weren't enough rap/hip-hop songs in the music rounds, but I digress.
In reviewing the puzzle, I was pretty impressed with the construction. 53 theme squares, with a central answer cutting through 3 different theme answers. And I think I got some solid 6, 7, ,and 8-letter answers without a ton of dreck.
TL;DR - I like sports and think they are worthy of puzzle love/inclusion.