I shoot a lot of my sports photos at F2.8 or F3.4 to ensure that the background is slightly out of focus.
That way, the focus of the viewer is on the action and not distracted by the background.
Occassionally I keep the background in focus if I want to show the reaction of spectators.
I looked at the website suggested and noticed the tight crops.
Most sports photographers that I know (including myself) are instructed to shoot wide.
The layout personel determine the final crop based on how the photos and article will be laid up in the page.
So the photographer rarely chooses the final crop, the newspaper or magazine does.
I would suspect that the crops are tight because the photo as printed in the paper or magazine is going to be quite small, so a wide shot would be indescernable within a 2 inch wide column.
Also, those examples were cropped tight but still showed good balance.
Sometimes there is a tendency for photographers to overcrop their own shots in order to "improve" the shot (I sometimes fall into this camp) whereas some shots just can't be improved much by cropping.
Do you shoot wide and then crop your shots? Or do you usually try to get the correct framing "in camera"?
Do you try to control your backgrounds by selecting the appropriate aperture?