"...new technology has raised overall expectations, so what was "acceptably sharp" in the past is no longer considered acceptable."
Amen. I concur with Michael. I have some old Sports Illustrated covers in frames in my house, some as old as 1981 - before autofocus, and back when ISO 400 film was pretty crappy. When these photos were taken, they were judged as good enough to put on the cover of SI. Now, these photos would be deleted from the HD of ANY of the regular posters in the Nikonians Sports forum. They are laughably grainy and lacking in sharpness.
f2.8 is still the best way to stop action in anything other than broad daylight. That will always produce the "best" image as low ISO technology keeps up with high ISO technology, and shutter speed for stopping action is king.