For 35 years, Tom Kissinger, vice president, general counsel and secretary at Milwaukee-based The Marcus Corp., has spent many of his nights as the target of screaming basketball fans.
Kissinger began refereeing college basketball during his freshman year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign out of both a passion for the game and a need for a little pocket change.
“I wasn’t good enough to play basketball at that level in college, so I wanted to be close to the game and thought this was the way to do it,” Kissinger said.
Since college, Kissinger has continued his referee career for high school and college games. He officiates 35 to 40 games a season, mostly high school games throughout metro Milwaukee. He has also started officiated games with his son Peter, 22.
“It’s a very nice father-son activity,” Kissinger said.
Two years ago, Kissinger stepped beyond basketball to serve as a Big Ten football replay official, a position that has sent him to most schools in the Big Ten conference and the Chick-fil-A Bowl in December.
Despite the rowdy fans, Kissinger said his role as a referee is relaxing and gives him an escape from the everyday grind.
“You have to concentrate so hard and you kind of forget about everything else, so it’s a nice getaway,” he said.