Whether you have been a star athlete since high school or are looking for an excuse to get off the couch, it's likely there's a recreational sports league for you in New Orleans. Local leagues, some of which enjoy adult beverages before or even during play, run the gamut from kickball and ultimate Frisbee to darts and bar shuffleboard. Here are some of the options available in parks (and bars) around the area:
Among the most popular adult recreational sports in New Orleans is kickball, organized by the local affiliate of the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA). About 2,000 people participate in WAKA events every year, including kickball and other pastimes like bowling and dodgeball, said franchise owner Sean Gaubert. The group offers leagues geared towards both longtime players and those who haven't played since their grammar school days, and teams customarily gather for drinks after games. According to Gaubert, the sport has brought a lot of people together. He typically attends a kickball couple's wedding roughly every six months, often bringing as a gift a commemorative ball signed by fellow players.
Fans of darts, a quintessential bar sport if there ever was one, have been competing across the parish through the Orleans Darts Club since 2000. Players are grouped into divisions based on their past performances, competing in three 13-week sessions in the spring, summer, and fall. Competitions, including single, double, and triple face-offs, are usually held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in bars located mostly in Mid-City, Lakeview, and Uptown. One New Orleans twist on the competition: Rather than competing to score 501 points in a match, players instead strive for 504, in a nod to the city's area code.
Ultimate players seeking a place to play this soccer-like Frisbee game can look to the New Orleans Disc Association (NODA), which organizes league play and pickup games in the city. A summer league has played in New Orleans for more than 25 years, said Joe Daschbach, the association president. Players have added other leagues throughout the year and helped organize teams at area middle and high schools. Last year saw the introduction of NODA's first beginner league, which included clinics with longtime players before matches. Regular pickup games are held on Thursday nights at Evans Playground in the Uptown neighborhood (5100 LaSalle St.).
If you've ever visited a state fair, it's likely you've at least been tempted to try Skee-Ball, where players bowl balls up a ramp aiming for a series of holes marked with point values. Many local fans know to drop by the Lower Garden District's Half Moon Bar (1125 St. Mary St.) on Thursday nights, when about 20 teams compete across two divisions on the bar's two Skee-Ball machines. The league normally holds three 10-week sessions per year, each culminating in playoffs and a championship. Interested players can contact the league online or drop by the Half Moon, and while the group is officially called the New Orleans Skee-Ball and Drinking League, organizer Jason Mangone emphasizes that alcohol consumption isn't actually a requirement to play.
The New Orleans Shuffleboard League got its start Uptown at The Kingpin bar (1307 Lyons St.), where bartender and league founder Jeff Freeman installed a shuffleboard table that soon attracted players to in-house tournaments. (Note that the league focuses strictly on table shuffleboard, the popular bar pastime, rather than the deck shuffleboard famously played on cruise ships. Weekly tournaments continue there and in Jefferson Parish at Gennaro's Bar (3207 Metairie Rd., Metairie) and Caddyshack Bar and Grill (3217 Ridgelake Dr, Metairie). Traveling teams based out of those and other bars now also compete for prizes in the spring and fall seasons, attracting both regular players representing their home bars and novices interested in trying out the game.
The New Orleans Hash House Harriers are probably best known for organizing the annual Red Dress Run, where participants raise money for charity by running (and drinking) in the namesake garment on a usually steamy August day. But the group also organizes weekly runs across the area-on Sundays or on Monday nights, depending on the season-when participants follow a trail set by a member designated as that week's "hare." Beer and raunchy singalongs follow, although non-tipplers are free to stick to water. The group is part of an international organization that reportedly got its start in colonial-era Malaysia at a canteen known as the "hash house." A second local chapter called the VooDoo Hash House Harriers runs on Thursday evenings.
A number of bars across New Orleans have pinball machines, but the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant Kebab (2315 St. Claude Ave.) has one of the most interesting selections, curated by the Mystic Krewe of the Silver Ball. That organization claims to have one of the largest collections of pinball machines in the South, and it also organizes regular public league play at Kebab. Different competitions involve different goals, from simply scoring the highest score to getting a particular score using the least number of balls, a variant known as pin golf. Interested players can also seek to join the Mystic Krewe, which has its own private pinball and event venue just outside the city.
New Orleans is one of at least 15 cities with a chapter of this multisport group, which seeks to unite members of the LGBTQ community and its allies through a variety of fun and inclusive sports. The nonprofit organization offers leagues for sports, including volleyball, kickball, dodgeball, and tennis, as well as a running club and a yoga group. For those looking to exercise their brains as well as their bodies, Stonewall Sports also features a trivia league. League play is generally followed by meetups at local bars, and the group also boasts regular Happy Hours publicized on social media.
Sand Volleyball at Coconut Beach Sand Sports Complex
The largest sand sports complex in the United States calls Kenner home. At Coconut Beach thousands of all ages gather each week on 100,000 square feet of man-made sand courts to play in volleyball tournaments and leagues. After over 30 years as the home of sand volleyball in the Greater New Orleans Area, Coconut Beach has recently added competitions in sand soccer and dodgeball to its premises. This summer at Coconut Beach you can enjoy fun, friendly competition and take refuge from the heat at the bar and grill space, where players or spectators can relax in between matches.