My dad came to most of my games growing up. Even when he knew I wouldn't be playing, he would still be in the stands. I heard him sometimes, but I could never understand what he was saying over all the other friends and family members in the crowd. However, what he was saying was not as important as where he was looking. When I looked up into the stands from the field, I always knew one thing for sure, he would be looking at me.
Sometimes, he even waved. I miss him.
In the film Avatar, the Na’vi race express their affection for each other not by saying “I love you,” but by saying, “I see you.” Words are nice, but to be seen by those you love is truly what we all desire.
We can love someone and still be less than present at times. But to “see” someone requires us to be fully engaged and present. My dad saw me. No yelling was required. He didn't need to encourage me to run fast or hit hard. He didn't need to throw love bombs at me from the stands to make sure my ego was okay from the bad pass I just threw or the tackle I missed.
When I messed up, and my pity party was over, I would look up in the stands and make eye contact with my dad. He would smile, give me a thumbs up, and that is all I needed from him.
That is all the kids need--your presence. The rest is just noise.