Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Before CMU's Exam Week, Sounds of Squeaking Sneakers and Bouncing Basketballs

Some Gus Macker teams played in front of Finch Fieldhouse on the Dream Court where Gus Macker founder Scott McNeal playfully did play-by-play announcing (below).

There was $18 on the line. That was a lot in 1974, when 18 kids gathered into a 3-on-3 basketball teams to play for the money on a driveway.

Scott McNeal expanded the tournament and traveled to five cities in 1987. More than 10,400 players played the tournament that year and propelled Mr. McNeal's brand — Gus Macker.

At Central Michigan University, where Scott McNeal graduated from in 1979, Gus Macker closed a street adjacent to the library on April 27 and 28. Amidst the sounds of bouncing basketballs, squeaking sneakers and cheers, Mr. McNeal speaks into the microphone at the Dream Court.

"There's Puke with the shot," Mr. McNeal said, referring to a player's nickname, "and it's too strong off the rim."

The Gus Macker was somewhat branded this year by CMU — it became the only college in the country to facilitate the tournament completely with students. The students said it was a semester project for a Recreation, Parks and Liesure class, a culmination of planning, coordination and planning the physical layout of hoops and court space.

Mr. McNeal donated $10,000 to CMU for the Dick Parfitt Gymnasium, a multi-sport practice facility near McGuirk Arena.

Today, Gus Macker tournaments are held in 75 cities in which nearly a quarter-million players participate. The tournaments, nationwide, draw nearly two million spectators. All-time, according to the Gus Macker website, it has drawn 2.2 million players ages 7 to older than 50, and 23 million spectators.

The tournament drew 174 teams in various age groups. Each team, according to Gus Macker rules, is guaranteed to play three scheduled games. 

Gus Macker was played on a street adjacent to the Charles V. Park Library on the campus of Central Michigan University.
Scott McNeal does play-by-play announcing during a Gus Macker tournament game on the campus of Central Michigan University on April 27, 2013.
Gus Macker founder Scott McNeal set out Toilet Bowl trophies on the table near the end of a tournament game on April 27, 2013, on the campus of Central Michigan University.

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