COLUMBIA — Super Bowl Sunday is sort of like Thanksgiving.
Friends and families gather to celebrate an American tradition, while enjoying delicious food, and, of course, football is on the television. While most people are fortunate enough to be off work on Thanksgiving and Super Bowl Sunday, the Missouri women’s basketball team is not in that group.
For the third time in the past four seasons, the Tigers play on Super Bowl Sunday. Missouri plays No.22 Iowa State at 3 p.m. Sunday at Mizzou Arena. Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints play the Indianapolis Colts around 5:25 p.m. in Miami.
Earlier in the season, the Tigers had a flight leave on Thanksgiving Day for a tournament in Florida.
With a team full of athletes, many of whom are football fans, it can’t be easy to miss out on such gatherings.
“I’d prefer not to be playing on Sunday,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said.
Originally slated for a Saturday game, the contest was moved to Sunday because of television. Tigers players insist that their focus is on Iowa State, and not Super Bowl parties.
“Any other year, I’d be glued to the TV,” Jasmyn Otote, a Cowboys fan, said. “But since we have a big game, I’ll catch it when I catch it.”
RaeShara Brown said she would probably prefer to play earlier on Sunday, but said she will be “focused for Iowa State.”
The women’s game should end before the Super Bowl begins around 5:25 p.m. However, the postgame press conference and changing/showering after should cause the Tigers to miss a portion of the football game.
Sometimes it affects some more than most.
Two years ago, Kate Lakin, assistant director of media relations for the team, had to miss the first quarter of Super Bowl XLII because of the Tigers game against Nebraska.
Lakin, a huge New York Giants fan, has to write a press release after every game. When the Giants went on to beat the previously unbeaten Patriots that year, Lakin said she was just happy to be watching the “best part,” which was the dramatic finish. Plaxico Burress caught a touchdown pass from Eli Manning with 35 seconds left to play to give the Giants the 17-14 victory.
Stein is also looking forward to the big game — the Super Bowl, that is.
“Absolutely. Love football,” Stein said, while also noting her Illinois roots and admiration for the Chicago Bears. “I really like Peyton Manning. And growing up in Big Ten country, obviously, I knew about Drew Brees (from Purdue). It’s kind of a tough call on who to cheer for. I just hope for a good game.”
The Tigers have other reasons to pay extra attention to this year’s Super Bowl. Former Tigers standout and NFL rookie Chase Daniel is the Saints' third-string quarterback.
“You come in as a rookie, and you only dream about going to the Super Bowl,” Brown said. “Him being on the Super Bowl team says a lot about Mizzou, too. What kind of players they recruit and what kind of players they bring out of the system.”
Sunday won’t be the first time the Tigers coach has noticed Daniel on the Saints sideline.
“That’s another reason to really look forward to the game,” Stein said of Daniel. “We always look for him on TV. I think it’s really cool.”
While the Tigers attendance has not been great this season, playing right before the Super Bowl is not expected to help the cause. Stein said she wouldn’t be surprised if the attendance is a bit lower for the game against the Cyclones.
“There are a lot of gatherings going on,” Stein said.
It could be worse for the Tigers. For example, they could be Iowa State. Unless the Cyclones stop and watch the game somewhere on the way back to Ames, Iowa, they will likely miss the entire game, assuming they can't pick it up on the bus. That gives the Tigers one positive to take into Sunday’s game.
But the Tigers hope to have one more positive heading into their Super Bowl parties that await them.
Stein said, “You want to have a good win, and you want to be able to sit back and relax.”