81-year-old referee retiring after 52 years on the job

An 81-year-old local referee is hanging up his whistle after officiating games for over five decades.

Paul Friedman has been a referee for 52 years and his last game took place in Gaithersburg as Quince Orchard High School hosted Northwest High School in the Maryland 4A West Region championship Friday night.

"Probably tears will come to my eyes after doing this 52 years," he said. "It's very sentimental and I am going to give the same effort as I did over the last 52 years. It's very important. Emotionally and internally, I can feel it."

Refereeing athletic events has definitely kept Friedman feeling younger than he is while also keeping him in very good shape.

"I love it," he said. "I did three major sports, but that keeps you in good shape. Absolutely. It definitely does, especially when you get to my age."

Being a referee has allowed him to cover games all over the D.C. region, which included many state and city championship games. He even got a chance to travel to Bermuda to work a game there.

"I have worked a lot of major games and that to me is enjoyable, especially when you get a nice crowd to a ballgame, more so in football than basketball," said Friedman. "But when you get 4,000 or 5,000 people out there cheering, it's good. It has been great to experience over the 52 years."