My biggest question then would be this:Will I be able to take "better quality photos" with the super zoom cameras than I can with the point & shoot that I had? Would there have been a noticeable difference in color, sharpness, and clarity (assuming I have the appropriate settings in the camera) in the photos that I displayed above? Thanks again for your help.
One other thing, would there be another super zoom that I might want to consider? From what I was reading, the Canon and Kodak both run of regular batteries instead of having a built-in rechargeable. Is that common in the super zooms or would other brands offer the built-in battery?
Your shots wil be better, but only to a degree. It looks as if the top 4 photos are allin the eveningunder lights. That's tough conditions. You'll get sharper shots because you have more focal length. But, you aren't going to be able to get shutter speeds to stop motion. So, if you want the same exact types of shots as you have here, you'll get sharper photos - and the IS in the Canon will be a big bonus.
But, only to a degree. I would think the OU game photo will get somewhat better, but in that situation you have a subject coming directly towards you - the toughest thing for predictive focusing to handle. So, you can't expect a $400 digicam to handle that as well as a $1300 DSLR with a $2000 lens on it. But it will get better.
On the tennis shot - you can help that with your focusing technique - the newer camera will definitely help as focus should be better but you still need to focus on a single player - either the server or the returner. Even using a DSLR, it's very difficult to get that much area in-focus. You basically want to use as narrow an aperture as possible (highest f-stop) and as little zoom as possible - IF you want to try and get both in -focus.
Right now, both look out of focus. But no question the superzoom will help you on the golf shots.
Having said all that, I also want to add - shooting from the stands like that I think it would be a waste of money for you to invest in a DSLR. It's too far removed from the action and the angles are too akward to really get good action shots. So, I think you're right to stay with a digicam.
So, bottom line - yes you will get better photos - but it won't be a quantum leap forward.