Well, there are times to have the background in focus, and sometimes better to blur.
It's all about control, andif I have the control to use blurring or a sharp background when I want it, then I'm a better photographer for it.
I don't know about "nailing it" in frame. That's probably easy to do when the subject is static.
But in sports photography, things are developing and moving very quickly. It's more important to "catch the moment" than catch the perfect frame.
It may be cheating a little, but shooting wide and cropping later will result in more shots "in the can".
I can't depend on luck when my editor is expecting the winner across the finish line, without cut off heads, feet or whatever.
I guess I'm not that much of a purist: I sometimes review my shots right after I take them, select the bestframing later, correct photos for printing using software.