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Sorry, not totally understanding the relevance of this to your comments about 'pros' getting the shot in sports.
All these "types" of camera were used as excuses as to why Canon "couldn't" put a better AF into non-1D camera. Because 1D was the "sports camera", and so on.
If you were a dedicated sport shooter and couldn't afford a current 1D camera, you could always buy a used camera from the previous generation. Had nothing to do with 'pro' vs 'amateur' it was just the level of features and the price.
And that's what I did, got 1D2N in 2009, and got bitten by 1D3 AF problems in 2011.
There is a huge technique side to sport shooting, unique in the photography world (wildlife is similar as well). People got amazing shots with MF cameras back in the day, so I'm sure people with good technique were getting good keeper rates with 40D style bodies. I shot sports with an original Rebel and 40D until about 3 years ago. I had lots of great shots, but you had to understand how to get them since you can't just spray and pray.
I fully agree, and I never use my 1D in sequential mode, unless I shoot the old cannons and muskets about to shoot. I shot my "sports" (dancing and swordfighting) first with 350D, then with 30D, I got some keepers (or more at the expense of wider DOF) but 1D made it possible for me to get much more keepers at substantially thinner DOF. While I didn't really need size, weight, sealing, rugged build and high FPS. So I was always supporting the idea of smaller and cheaper body with advanced AF, as 5D3 is now.