For those of us who grew up with Pam Oliver on the sidelines of Fox NFL broadcasts, the news that came out Monday hit us pretty hard. The long time sideline reporter has officially been demoted to the No. 2 broadcasting team with Erin Andrews taking over the No. 1 role on broadcasts this upcoming season on Fox.
To add insult to injury, the 2014 season will be Oliver’s last as a reporter for the National Football League.
Fox executives broke the news to Oliver in April (via Sports Illustrated).
But it was a shock last April when Fox Sports executives traveled to Atlanta, where she (Oliver) is based, to tell her in person that she would no longer hold the job that has been her professional life for two decades.
Oliver has been one of the most respected women in the sports media world, but apparently wasn’t of use to Fox anymore.
A veteran reporter, who wanted to remain anonymous, had this to say to Sports Illustrated about the decision.
She’s not blonde, nor is she in the demographic,” said the reporter. “I’m not naïve and I understand it’s a business, but I think that Fox did not treat her as befits a woman who has been the female face of their sports operation for the past 19 years.
So Fox goes from an extremely talented and well-connected sideline reporter to one that is considerably less talented, but has the looks that the station views its demographics want.
Andrews currently hosts Fox College Football Saturday and is a co-host on Dancing with the Stars on ABC.
She’s not horrible by any stretch of the imagination, but the idea that she will be able to replace Oliver without any impact on the quality of the broadcast is foolish.
For Oliver’s part, it doesn’t seem she’s happy about Fox’s final decision.
To go from the lead crew to no crew was a little shocking,” Oliver said. “I said I wanted to do a 20th year [on the sidelines]. I expressed to them that I was not done and had something to offer. Again, I think it was predetermined coming in. Not at that meeting, but two years ago it was determined that no matter what I did or did not do, a change would be made for this year.
Always the classy professional, Oliver plans on finishing up strong in her last season with Fox. Unfortunately for the station, there are going to be a lot of unhappy fans out there. This seemed to be a pure vanity move on their part more than anything. And it represents a double standard in the sports media business. A double standard that has still forced women to work three times harder than men to make a viable career out of sports journalism.
Fox’s decision has not helped further equality among the sexes. Instead, it seems to be based more on bringing the pretty lady onto our television sets on Sunday at the cost of real football analysis.
Here is to hoping Andrews is up for the task.
Photo: NY Post