I understand that a parent, or a fan, not knowing, or are unable to roam around a venue to try and achieve a great shot other than the back side. I understand that especially parents are excited to see their child come up to bat, or enter a huddle, or are somewhere on the field of play and all they can think about is snapping a shot of their child and not thinking of how to get a better shot resulting in the ugly 'back side' shot.
I also understand, especially at the youth level, that roaming at a venue is easy enough to do.
Facial features are way more interesting. The depth of the face. The thought process, or the stress on the athletes face. The participation and cohesiveness of the athlete expressed upon their face, all contribute to the ultimate story.
An athlete just standing there, back turned to the lens is not at all a good image.
HOWEVER, as all things are said, IF the action dictates that the backside is all you get, and a story is still being told, then, of course, it could be an image that can be exciting when captured.
Think about it...back to the lens, doing nothing but showing numbers and their butt. OR, an action sequence of shots, involving the viewer in the story, even though all you see are numbers and butts.
Ear shots simply, in my honest opinion, suck.
A straight on shot of someones face, looking directly at the athletes ear socket, or their ear hole on their helmet, to me, is ugly.
Again...the face shows so much more. The face tells so much more. The face interacts the viewer to more of the story. Even if the shot taken is just clipping into the other side of the athletes face is more interesting than a straight on shot of someones ear.
It does not matter if that ear is covered by long hair or a helmet of some sort.
If action can not be taken, then the story can still be conveyed from an athlete during the moment.