Obviously someone's not too familiar with the retro game market. Very few people think to talk about old spots game, save a select few such as Tecmo Bowl. When Gamestop still carried older platforms, the majority of the titles game were sports titles.
Still, perhaps it is unfair that older sports titles get disregarded by core gamers (and to clarify, when I say "sports games," I mainly mean licensed sports games. Games like Mario sport series are completely different beasts). I'm sure if you actually sat down and played through a bunch of them from different eras there would be a clear evolutionary gameplay trends to them.
The problem is that any gameplay trends tend to be overshadowed by the selection of teams. It's probably safe to say most people buying the latest version of Madden are doing less for the gameplay innovations and more to play as the most current version of their favorite teams. Sure, EA could slow down the cycle and let people download the latest team stats, but why would they want to when the game sells like gangbusters every year?
The conundrum reminds of the one that surrounds games based on other licensed property. People will buy a Harry Potter game, regardless of whether or not it's any good because it's Harry Potter. People buy Madden because it lets them play as their favorite teams. The situation existed long before EA's NFL exclusivity contract, though that certainly doesn't help the situation.
Frankly, I can't see a way to easily change the situation. I myself don't really play sports games, so any suggestion I have would probably be detached from the reality of the situation. Granted, the reality of the situation is why I don't play those games so it's a pretty vicious cycle of indifference there.
""Do you really think, five years from now, you're gonna hear ‘Is Grand Theft Auto on PlayStation 4 as good as Grand Theft Auto on PlayStation 3? Will Halo 6 people really say, ‘Is this as good as Halo 1?'" Justice muses. "I don't think so.""
- Maybe the Greatest of All Time, but not In Its Time - Sports - Kotaku (view on Google Sidewiki)