This is old news by Internet standards, so most readers probably know that Fox demoted NFL sideline reporter Pam Oliver, a woman whose job I wanted. What a cool gig, I thought, having close-to-the-field access to the players and coaches.
Oliver held the job for almost 20 seasons. She moves to the network’s number two team, which means less time on the sideline (on air, at least). After the upcoming football season…no more sideline. Ouch. It sounds like Oliver hadn’t seen the demotion coming.
“To go from the lead crew to no crew was a little shocking,” Oliver told Sports Illustrated. “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.”
Human nature being what it is, some have speculated the decision is race-based. Others say it’s age-based. Oliver is 53; Erin Andrews is 36. Some blacks on Twitter gave Oliver a hard time throughout the season for her choice of wigs and/or weaves. From CBS:
But the millions and millions of eyes on the top national production make the job extremely meaningful, regardless. Oliver was recognized as the highest-profile African-American woman in sports broadcasting, a fact that reminds us of the massive reach and strength of the NFL. Her bad hair day last January was in fact important enough to be a major story in black media, forcing her to respond to critics and raising troubling concerns about racial double standards for appearance created from both outside the black community and from within. As silly as it all sounds, it mattered because Pam Oliver carried symbolic significance, no matter what she was actually doing.