Montana Referee Retiring After 40 Years of Service - News, Sports and Weather

Montana Referee Retiring After 40 Years of Service

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Don MacIntyre has been a high school basketball referee for the last 40 years in Montana. Let's put that in perspective, when Don started in 1974, the average price of gas was fifty-five cents a gallon and the original great Gatsby movie had just come out. The reason he reffed for so long was because he was having lot of fun. But now Don's decided to hang his whistle up.

For the last forty years, referee  Don MacIntyre has had the best seats in the house. But after a difficult decision, he is giving up those seats for seats in the stands. But he's leaving with a smile on his face.

"For me this was a hobby. Refereeing basketball was a release. It was an emotional release," said Don.

On January 23, Don was presented a plaque before his final game, Butte Central at Helena High. His first game 40 years ago? Butte Central at Helena High. But the emotions didn't hit Don until the end of the game.

"I really didn't think about it until I looked up and saw the clock and saw that there was only about ten seconds left and I thought this is it Don. Smiled and go out feeling good," said Don.

"I thought it was one of the best games he ever called. Near flawless. Always go out on top," joked Ben MacIntyre, Don's son. "It's a thankless job. They don't do it for the paycheck they do it to give back to the sport, to the student athletes."

Giving back means a lot to Don. Being a referee means dealing with players, fans, and coaches. It means sometimes being the villain in a game of heroes. But Don has an interesting way of looking at this new age game.

"The game of basketball has changed since I started forty years ago and the way it's changed is the fans come to coach, the coaches come to referee, and the referees come to watch," said a smiling Don.

Don has certainly seen a lot and he admitted the funniest thing he'd ever seen came after a half time bake sale.

"As we're going down the floor the girls basketball player was looking at me and saying something and I thought she was calling  a timeout and so I say do you want a timeout? And she says there's cake on the floor! One of the fans had thrown a cake at my other official," laughs Don.

After refereeing his final game on the same court he started on, Don will still watch games, just with not of good seats.

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