Michael Miles likes to get a root beer float on an autumn Friday night and drive around a small town. It gets him in the mood for Texas high school football. Not that he needs much help. The Lake Highlands resident is a college football referee who has officiated at the Alamo Bowl and lots of games all over the country. Miles is retiring his black-and-white stripes at the end of this season after almost 35 years as a football referee. He started in 1975 as a peewee ref. “You do whatever you can, and you move up the ranks to do junior high games, and then J.V. and varsity, and you just keep moving up,” he says. “I’ve been in the college ranks for about 15 years.”
The DART employee travels every Saturday during football season. He recently was in Lafayette, La., one of his favorite towns to visit, working a Ragin’ Cajuns game.
“I’ve seen really good football, and it’s taken me to some really neat places that I wouldn’t have gotten to see otherwise,” he says. Referees must look anonymous — they’re not supposed to have facial hair, and when they have a meal together before a game, they’re on their best behavior, Miles says. They know they’ve done a good job when no one talks about the officiating, he says. No news is good news. Miles says he will miss his ref buddies, but “it’s a young man’s game,” he says. As a side judge, he has to run backwards to look for pass interference, which is hard on the body. And travel isn’t as fun — he would rather stay home with his grandkids and watch football from the stands. “I always enjoyed football, and it’s been a way to stay a part of an athletic endeavor,” he says. “In this state, Friday night is a magical endeavor.”