This isn’t surprising, Erin Andrews is FOX’s golden girl, so it was just a matter of time, before she was moved into the top spot and Oliver who has held that top spot for almost 20 years would be moved out.
FOX just didn’t want to downgrade Oliver, they wanted to remove her completely from the coverage. She spoke to SI.com about the demotion and how she felt about hearing the news.
After a painful couple of months, Oliver said the disappointment of that news has subsided and that she has accepted her new professional reality. But it was a shock last April when Fox Sports executives traveled to Atlanta, where she 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 says that while she respected Fox Sports president Eric Shanks and executive vice president of production John Entz delivering the news in person, she was stunned when they initially informed her that not only was she being removed from Fox’s No. 1 NFL team, but also that she was being taken off the NFL sidelines completely in 2014.
“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.”
Oliver will be working with the #2 crew of Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch. She will stay on with FOX Sports after this year, but will be doing other things other than sideline reporting.
A veteran reporter in the industry, had this to say to SI.com, which is what a lot of you are probably thinking right now.
“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.”
Oliver has been the subject of social media ridicule for things that don’t have anything to do with her work (some of it rightfully so, others just cruel for no reason).
She’s a better sideline reporter and in my opinion reporter in general than Erin Andrews, which isn’t a knock on Andrews, but a compliment to Oliver. But, as the reporter said, it is a business and Erin Andrews fits more into the demographic of what FOX Sports and sports media in general wants now from their women on the sideline.
It is very difficult to be a woman in the sports media industry and even harder to be a woman of color in the industry, so Oliver has been a trendsetter and I hope is recognized for that.
It is very difficult for minority women who don’t fit the mold of being tall, blonde and white to break into the industry. The industry as a whole is run by older white males, so it makes sense that when they choose women for certain roles that have these stereotypical ideals in mind. It also may discourage other young women of color who are trying to break in the industry because they will believe they are going up against a stacked deck.
A sideline reporter’s job use to be to get information that was important to the viewer, but now it is trending to finding the hottest girl to put in front of the camera, so it might be a while, before we see the next Pam Oliver and that frankly is disappointing.