March 2, 2021

Matt Tait is sports editor of the Lawrence Journal-World, a Kansas newspaper now owned by Ogden Newspapers Inc. He will never forget the pandemic’s sudden impact on the 2020 Big 12 basketball tournament in Kansas City, saying it felt “surreal” and like being in a movie when athletics realized the games had to be canceled.

In the months after, he was often asked what he was doing without sports. But for Tait, there was no break as his fellow sports staffers were furloughed for months, leaving him to solely keep track of sports developments at the University of Kansas, multiple area high schools, the state activities association, national sports and Kansas City sports.

He also had a dramatic change in his schedule since he was no longer constantly traveling to games and working nights. The early months of the pandemic allowed him more time with his wife and 5-year-yold daughter.

“It’s been the only silver lining I can see in this whole thing,” Tait said.

Listen to the oral history interview:

Read the transcript.

See the sports section of the Lawrence Journal-World from March 13, 2020.

See the sports section of the Lawrence Journal-World from April 18, 2020.

See more from The Essential Workers, an oral history project tracking the experiences of locally owned newspapers in Mid-America during the pandemic.

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Teri Finneman is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas. She previously worked as a print journalist and multimedia correspondent covering state…
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