A brief update and one more question (I hope I haven't tried your patience too much by now! )
The question: I forget now, was there some reason we had ruled out the Sony A700?
I piqued the interest of the guy at the camera store tonight, and so he has one coming so that we both can try it out. We read dpreview and it sounds like it might just be the solution for me...of course, it remains to be tested and handled...and it does seem to have more noise at the higher ISO, but still tolerable.
There is a fast zoom lens for $1800, which is in the same ballpark as the Nikon and Canon equivalent lenses that have IS. Granted, there are Tamron and Sigma lenses for the Nikon and Canon, but they won't have IS. You all say that's not important for sports work, but it could help me go with slower shutter speeds if necessary, instead of wider aperture and/or higher ISO.
The body with kit lens goes for $1100, so that's $200 more than the T1i, but he said it is a better build of camera (magnesium alloy).
In the Nikon lineup, he suggested the D5000 as being a less expensive body, which would allow me to afford the better glass more quickly. But I forgot if there was any flaw with that one? It did feel more comfortable than the D90 to me, although not as comfy as the ones with forward-set shutter release buttons (the Nikon makes me stretch my finger more than the Canons, for example).
Summary of my research (and the camera salesman agreed):
Canon T1i is not as sharp as the xsi, though it is still very good. Lighter weight and more comfortable, though, than the D90. Probably what I'll get if the Sony doesn't pan out, even though it isn't perfect.
Olympus E620 obviously has the fatal flaw of focus trouble in low light and noise at higher ISO. I tried it out in the store and it did "hunt" at times. I did get to see the IS in action, though, and it really worked! I took a zoomed picture in the store's low light (I think 150mm); the shutter speed said it was 1/40...and it came out clear unless you magnified it 5 times. Not too shabby!