You need to be more specific about what type of venue (pro, college, HS) and what you mean by bring the action up close. For instance, the hockey shots from the previous poster - are they close enough for you or do you want the action closer.
The venue will drive what size lens you can get away with as another poster indicated. So, unless you haveexcellent seats you're unlikely to get good clear shots with the action up close.
Here's an example of what a 70-200 2.8 lens can give you at a pro basketball game from the stands. But these were very expensive seats (given to me free - no way I'm paying $85 for basketball tickets) in the lower section. From nose bleed - forget it! Also, one usher questioned me about the lens - was it under 4" long - "Absolutely" I replied (another few Our Fathers for that one
) - other guards/ushers said nothing. Taking same outfit into a baseball stadium elicited no comments. For field sports like football, 200mm is OK on the sidelines but even 400mm from the stands is not enough for great pics. But, it depends on what your standards are too.
So, provide some more specifics about what venues you want to shoot in.