24th Macker to Feature Registered Officials on Every Court

By DON O’BRIEN Herald-Whig Staff Writer

An attempt to breathe life into the annual Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament, local organizers are doing something a little different with this year’s event.

The 24th annual event, which will be played in downtown Quincy on Memorial Day weekend, will feature registered, uniformed officials on every court. In past years volunteer officials called “GusBusters” were used on every court except the top men’s and top women’s divisions.

Tournament officials hope using “real” referees will help clean up rough play that often is associated with the tournament and help bring in more teams to the event, which is run by the Quincy Exchange Club.

“We’ve been seeing (participation) numbers go down a little bit, and we listened to feedback from people,” said Perry Terwelp, co-chairman of this year’s tournament. “The feedback that we’ve been getting is that it’s too rough.”

Scott McNeal, who founded Gus Macker, says the Quincy event is taking a significant step by hiring officials.

“This is a big move,” McNeal said. “I don’t know if you want to go as far as saying it’s a save-the-Macker type of thing, but it’s a big move and something that is the next step in the historical evolution of this event in Quincy.”

The event will pull in officials from around the region to work. Officials will be paid $10 a game. In past years, the Exchange Club has enticed people to work the tournament by offering them $25 per day to officiate with an extra $25 bonus if the person worked both days of the tournament. Terwelp said it will cost the Exchange Club approximately $3,100 more this year to run the event by using officials on each court.

“This is a way of getting the event to rejuvenate itself with team counts and maybe bring back people who haven’t played in a while,” McNeal said. “This is an attempt by the club to follow something we’ve been doing in Michigan and some of our other veteran sites. Instead of having GusBusters or court monitors, now we’re putting registered officials on courts calling all of the fouls and violations.”

During its run, the Quincy event has been one of the most popular Gus Macker events in the country. However, team counts have been dwindling in recent years. After reaching a high of 1,378 teams in 1997, the number of teams dropped to 411 for the 2013 event. That was still the fourth-highest team count of all Mackers that were played last year. The event brought in 1,644 players and 12,000 spectators watched the event, according to statistics released by Gus Macker.

Terwelp said the Exchange Club would like to get 500 teams signed up for this year’s tournament. McNeal said just over half of the Macker tournaments that his group runs nationwide will use officials this year. He said other tournaments that have changed from GusBusters to officials have seen an increase in participation numbers.

“We’ve seen an upswing in our tournaments in Michigan by doing it,” he said. “We’ve seen cities that didn’t do tournaments any more who came back and part of the reason was because they could do officials and not worry about the GusBusters system.

“When you come to an event that is officiated, it takes the pressure off the local organizers to recruit, train and find enough bodies to run a GusBuster style tournament. Using officials makes the game much more controlled and structured. There is just a different air about it.”


— dobrien@whig.com/221-3370

Smoke on the River Returns to Quincy’s Riverfront

2012SmokeLogo (2)The 2013 edition of Smoke on the River returns to Quincy’s Kesler Park on Friday and Saturday September 6 & 7. More than 40 teams will compete in an Illinois State Championship event for $6,500 in prize money, trophies and ribbons. In addition to the Grand and Reserve KCBS champions, prizes will be awarded in the categories of Chicken, Ribs, Pork Shoulder and Beef Brisket. For more information, go to our Smoke on the River website