Veteran sports reporter Pam Oliver is speaking out about being demoted from her longtime position as the Fox Sports network’s “A team” sideline reporter. In April, Oliver received news that she was being placed on the “B team,” and Erin Andrews, who is young, white and blond, would be taking over her position. Assumptions were made about Oliver being sidelined to make way for Andrews, who was only hired two years ago from ESPN, because of her age and looks.
In an essay for Essence, Oliver, 53, pretty much confirmed those assumptions. And she wrote about how she felt when she first heard of her demotion. “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,’” she writes for the magazine. “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.
“As one executive said to me, Fox Sports will look radically different in the coming years. I assume that means they want to look younger,” Oliver said.
Oliver went on to say that the new “look” of Fox Sports is young, blond and hot. Andrews’ popularity on social media was the complete opposite of Oliver’s. Oliver was constantly belittled and shamed on Twitter because of what people called a “struggle” weave. But Oliver said she was more concerned about reporting the news, and not her hair.
After processing the news of her demotion, Oliver admits to going through a period of depression and even felt ashamed about being emotional about it. “When I look back at that time, I feel embarrassed that I was so emotional,” Oliver said. “Among my friends, I’m the tough girl. I am not a crier. But I realize I was in mourning. I had to let it go.”
She has since rebounded and said she is looking forward to her new role.
One has to wonder if the bashing Oliver received on social media fueled Fox Sports’ decision to demote her. With her 25-year career coming to an end, it’s a shame that this demotion will no doubt be her legacy.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love being on the sidelines,” she wrote. “I love the ins and outs of the game. But I’m headed into this season knowing it’s time to say my good-byes. I’m going to savor every moment.”