Mardi Gras Gone … Wild?

At the risk of sounding really, really old, I’m going to voice an opinion that makes me sound really, really old.


You saw the Mardi Gras field the other day. I’m not going to waste my time, nor yours, on a preview. As far as I can tell, nothing has changed as of this morning. I’m not sure if there are behind-the-scenes changes to the schedule until the LSU folks update the score reporter, but I doubt any changes would include, you know, better competition.

I’m going to be brutally honest here, and it’s not a take-down of LSU Ultimate or Baton Rouge Ultimate. I owe my entire ultimate existence to that community, and I’m eternally thankful for the great people and players of Baton Rouge Ultimate. But the fact of the matter is that, to put it in corporate lingo or coach-speak, Mardi Gras is what it is. And nothing more.

The annual Mardi Gras tournament, once a pivotal, important, challenging and exciting college ultimate frisbee tournament is now this: A tournament that barely passes as anything more than a “B” team tournament.

Go back to the early 2000s, just pick a year really. I’ll save you some work and look at the 2004 field, which including the following teams: Wisconsin, Georgia, Texas A&M, Iowa and LSU. And those were just the five teams in Pool A.

So much can change in 10 years. This year’s field is headlined by LSU, Alabama, Davidson and … wait for it … Texas-B.

Teams that competed at Nationals on a yearly basis made pit stops in Baton Rouge every spring for Mardi Gras in the early part of this century. The tournament was on par with Centex, Trouble in Vegas and other big name tournaments in the sport. Mardi Gras was a bellwether tournament. It was a precursor to the field at Nationals, a modern-day Stanford Invite, Warm Up or President’s Day.

Now? Mardi Gras is just an afterthought. Notoriously so.

The why is, like I said, not necessarily the fault of those in charge. For one, weather has wrecked the Mardi Gras tournament as far back as most current college students can remember. The relocation to St. Francisville, which could be indirectly (or directly, according to whom you speak) attributed to the Baton Rouge ultimate community, certainly is prohibitive to teams looking to attend for more than just ultimate.

And maybe, just maybe, we are seeing a culture change in ultimate. Back in 2004, college teams took ultimate and partying seriously. The best teams in the country also had the best parties. Now, more college teams than ever before are taking the ultimate seriously, but not so much the partying. Mardi Gras being viewed as a party tournament in the middle of a serious college season means less quality teams migrating south.

There is hope yet for Mardi Gras. The current core of LSU players — young, hungry and driven — have high-reaching, competitive aspirations. Which include hosting a more competitive tournament in their own backyard.

Plans also are underway to move Mardi Gras either back to Baton Rouge or, even better, closer to New Orleans within the next few years.

But the best hope for Mardi Gras in the future might come via this weekend’s weather forecast. Right now, the forecast looks ideal. Two days of nice-weather ultimate will go a long way toward erasing the obnoxiously moist memories of yesteryear.

At the very least, good weather — and therefore, good memories and good ultimate — would be a great place to restart for the once-wild, yet prestigious, Mardi Gras tournament.

Author: McNeil

Master of his domain | @TheHazean | @BamaSecs | @SlidellUltimate

21 thoughts on “Mardi Gras Gone … Wild?”

  1. If LSU wants elite competition for this tournament that may be hard, considering the Stanford Invite is this weekend as well. According to Ulti World its currently the most prestige tournament in the country. So the best teams in the land clearly will choose that tournament over Mardi Gras.

    1. This comment just reeks of n00b. So many dumb and uninformed things said in so few sentences. I won’t even begin to utterly dismantle this little boy, because I have better things (pussies) to do (fuck).

      1. Don’t be fooled by this DoppleYeti. Clearly DoppleYeti is the newb. I would absolutely demolish this punk but I don’t even have time to deal with this bullshit all over Bama Secs.

        1. Don’t be fooled by this Dopple Dopple Yeti. I am the real Yeti, living in the snowy plains of Antarctica. These two fuckers have no idea what they’re talking about.

    2. I’ll be nicer that all the Yeti’s were and actually explain something- Because Mardi Gras is an actual event, the tournament moves around on the calendar to coincide with it. Teams used to come play in Baton Rouge, and then drive over to NOLA for festivities. That was part of the allure of the tournament. If you set a date in the general timeframe of Mardi Gras, that opportunity (and draw) are now gone.

      Next year, MG will fall on the weekend that Warm Up is usually played.

      1. This is good info, cause I hear that planning will actually commence in November.
        BRUltimate planning ahead of time for once? We will see how that goes.

  2. Some of my favorite Ultimate memories happened at Mardi Gras when it was held at the Burns soccer complex. I remember that they used to have the party at the lumber yard that had the little shanty cabin with 100lbs of crawfish, a roasting pig, a large fire, and 3 kegs of Abita beer. I agree with you Mcneil that the teams these days dont want to go to the occasional party tournment which is a shame bc it was always a really good chance to bond with other teams across the country and still prove your salt on the field. Mardi Gras was like football bowl games pre 1973 as they were a reward for the hard work you had put in for the fall and first few months of the competitive season.

  3. Don’t sugar coat it McNeil. The bid fee is $350 to play in a pasture. No doubt the weather has played a role but this has got to be the least bang for your buck of any tournament I’ve ever been a part of at this point. I mean, Tulane can’t even be bothered to drive an hour and a half for this.

    The only division that is scheduled is scheduled like it’s a youth basketball tournament and not a college Ultimate tournament. 50 minute games? 4 pools of 6 whittled down to 8 for Sunday? Teams eliminated on a razor’s edge with no crossover between pools? What about 6 pools of 4 whittled down to 16 with crossovers included to give teams more skill-level based competition? A random hour long break in the middle of the day? College teams can’t take care of lunch on their own time? It’s absurd.

    Just compare the pages of this tournament and any other decently run tournament in the country. Here’s Stanford Invite’s: Just because you have shitty competition doesn’t mean you have to run a shitty tournament.

    This is all to say nothing of the fact that ALL THREE OTHER DIVISIONS have no idea what they’re doing and there are 43 hours before teams should probably be at the fields. I say probably because… well… who knows when teams should be at the fields?

    Sure, maybe the current field is this iteration of LSU/Baton Rouge Ultimate’s fault but when even teams like Alabama are heading to higher ground next season, the tournament directors will have only introspection to do.

      1. Guess again! But it should say “Sure, maybe the current field ISN’T this iteration…

        Point stands. Mardi Gras sucks this year.

    1. I agree with the pool format. Limiting the championship bracket to only the top eight when you have such large pools seems very strange IMO. Teams have a lot more pressure to win their pool play games which I guess could be a good thing, but they also risk getting fucked if exhaustion occurs (which it will) from playing five games in a day.

    2. Tulane stopped going to this tournament in 2005 not because of the competition, it was still pretty good then. We stopped going, because we were dragging 7-9 people out of their hangovers to go and then miss parades/fun/tomfoolery. Mardi Gras was and probably still is better spent as a team in New Orleans for Mardi Gras than trying to get a bunch of college kids to leave the epicenter of partying to go anywhere else.

      Source: I made the decision.

    1. If you go back and look at score reporter, you’ll see that Mardi Gras was one of the biggest (40-55 open teams with women and club) and best tournaments as late as 2011. Even 2012 still had quality teams, but the dropoff was beginning to happen. In 2010, there were ice/rain issues that forced the tournament to backup fields. Both 2011 and 2012 were stormed out in the first round on Saturday, but played a full bracket on Sunday. Check out the progression of teams from 2009-2014

      2012 Sunday Bracket-

  4. This tourney was conceived by Getty Jeff freeman, long ago, with only local teams in a open format, later it was adopted by 3 people who worked hard to bring a fun Competitive enjoyable experience that slowly grew into what u recall as the best tourneys. Lots of hard work and good management allowed that to happen, sadly , due to a desire to offer top prize money and a ever expanding team list, led us to the br soccer complex which was controlled by soccer nazis, not the local park group. The need for ever expanding field space was a liability and a curse, which caused problems we could not overcome. What began as one person running a tourney became 3 people and ended with only one person again running it, hard work for a individual to forsee all the problems and train wrecks coming down the track. To John Malone, web guy pool organizer,l Alex Sheffield, banker and beer guy, and my humble self, field guy, we had fun doing it and I have many fond memories of mardi grass ultimate. I hope it can return to the previous status soon.

  5. The difficulty of finding field space, preparing for potential monsoons year after year and dealing with being way in the positive to way in the negative due to weather problems has really taken its toll on those in charge. Ultimately it had been passed off to one or two LSU guys who were not prepared for what they’re roles entailed. They did the best with what they were given this year and will be better prepared for getting this done next year.

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