I was pretty certain I got the theme very quickly. It even helped me solve the puzzle. But I was not entirely correct!
I pulled out 27A Sport with Native American origins: LACROSSE because that’s news to me.
As can best be determined, the distribution of lacrosse shows it to have been played throughout the eastern half of North America, mostly by tribes in the southeast, around the western Great Lakes, and in the St. Lawrence Valley area. Its presence today in Oklahoma and other states west of the Mississippi reflects tribal removals to those areas in the nineteenth century. Although isolated reports exist of some form of lacrosse among northern California and British Columbia tribes, their late date brings into question any widespread diffusion of the sport on the west coast.The History of Lacrosse by the late Thomas Vennum Jr. (from brooklynlacrosse.org)
Is that why lacrosse is still such an east coast thing? I mean, UCSB does have intercollegiate lacrosse with a dedicated field for intercollegiate lacrosse and did when I graduated in 2011, which is more than I can say for the men’s volleyball team that got rained out at Rob Gym and had to use a court at Rec Cen because it was easier to do that than to clear out the Thunderdome during intramural basketball or something. BTW that was the men’s volleyball team that (inexplicably) lost to Ohio State in the NCAA championship game that season. Amazing that the arguably best men’s volleyball team in college sports that year was willing to put up with a dusty room with a leaky roof and not demand that the school move intramural hoops out of the arena where both basketball teams played and where women’s volleyball played. I don’t understand it.
But lacrosse–a club sport at UCSB–had a dedicated field with a permanent scoreboard.
I just thought there were no U’s in the answers. It’s not wrong, but it’s also entirely wrong because there were U’s where they were needed. The puzzle filled them in for me when I’d finished.
1A “Delish!”: yuMyyM. I’d put YMYM.
1D Southwest desert plant: yuCCA. YCCA.
21A Southern newspaper that William Faulkner once contributed to, with “The”: TIMESPICAyuNE. TIMESPICAYNE.
10D Neaten: TIDyuP. TIDYP.
39A Cultivars known for their yellow flesh: yuKONGOLDPOTATOES. YKNGOLDPOTATOES.
27D Easy two-pointer: LAyuP. LAYP.
48A Quantity that’s tied to one’s carbon footprint: ENERGyuSE. ENERGYSE.
36D Popular hot-and-sour Thai dish: TOMyuMSOUP. TOMYMSOUP. Strange because there’s a U there? I’d fix it later.
57A What a solver might growl after catching on to this puzzle’s theme?: WHYYOULITTLE. That made no sense to me because there were no U’s before. And then 68A “_ is easily deceived, because it is quick to hope”: Aristotle: YOUTH has a U, too, that it has in common with SOUP. It’s when Y and U are next to each other that they share a room.
I give the theme a C-.
Finished this one in 21:09.