Canon and Panasonic both get good reviews for most of there cameras. Here are some good review sites. Depending on how close you can get to the subject you might want to consider a camera with at least 10 to 12X optical zoom
The 2 best are the Panasonic Z8 and the Canon S5IS. What's important is the Optical zoom and you should avoid the Digital zoom because it will adversely affect the image. In fact, you're best off disabling the Digital zoom. For action photos time between shots will be important. Any of these sites will discuss all this.
If you want action shot, Panasonic and Canon are good choices for the anti-shake function. However, if you want a compact snap-shot camera, just buy one Casio Exilim.
Nikon is another good snap-shot camera.
Most Canon point and shoots (including the S5IS) will run CHDK, a very handy firmware enhancement that gives you access to all kinds of new features. You can even download scripts to do things like motion detection, timed exposures, automatic bracketing etc.
Minimum exposure time with CHDK is 1/10,000 second, though the image quality will obviously be pretty bad.