Pam Oliver Talks About Her New Role with Fox Sports
From Essence Magazine- For Pam Oliver, watching Sunday afternoon football as a kid was as much a family tradition as going to church. As an adult, she found her way to the gridiron, becoming one of the most well-regarded sports broadcasters in the industry. But this July, in a development that shocked the sports world, revealed that Fox Sports was pulling the plug on 53-year-old Oliver’s sideline gig, replacing her with Erin Andrews, 36, a former ESPN reporter and Dancing With the Stars host. The backlash was swift and loud. Fox execs were charged with ageism and racism and accused of valuing perkiness over experience. Despite scores of media requests in the wake of the revelation, Oliver remained mum. Now the veteran journalist gives her side of the story.
Even before my bosses told me what was going on, there had been rumblings that my days as a sideline reporter were coming to an end. Two years earlier, Fox Sports had hired Erin Andrews, a high-profile side-line reporter from ESPN, and I knew they hadn’t brought her on just to be a benchwarmer. Colleagues, and even coaches and players, would come up to me and say things like, “Boy, you’re handling this well. You’re really a class act.” But I let the rumors roll off my back. Without official confirmation about a change in my position, I decided I was going to do my work like I always had. Still, I was humiliated.
My bosses finally called a meeting in April. One was in New York City, the other was in Los Angeles, and they both flew to Atlanta. It showed a lot of respect that they chose to meet with me in person instead of delivering the news through my agent. They could have done all this without ever looking me in the eye. Still, it wasn’t an easy conversation. It took a while, but eventually it got down to them saying they wanted to “change direction within the company.” They told me they’d like me to work on Fox Sports 1 (the fledgling secondary cable sports channel Fox launched in 2013) to help give FS1 more reporting credibility. They wanted me to work primarily on specials and long-form stories, but I told them I still wanted to do sideline reporting. It was important to me to have a twentieth season—to end on 19 is wack! I wanted 20.
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Game Change: Pam Oliver Breaks Her Silence on Her Career Shake-up
By Pam Oliver as told to Jeannine Amber
Oliver spoke to WSJ prior to last February's Super Bowl in the New York metro area