Pam Oliver has ended her silence on the decision by Fox Sports to drop her to its second team on NFL broadcasts, promoting Erin Andrews to be the sideline reporter along with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman .
In an essay on Essence.com, Oliver writes that, although she’d heard rumblings about being replaced because Fox had lured Andrews from ESPN, the news still came as a shock after 10 years with Buck and Aikman. She admits that, after meeting with Fox executives and getting the news, “Okay, that hurt.”
There was talk of sexism and ageism in the move from Oliver to Andrews, who is 17 years younger. Oliver, who knew her 20th year might be her last, heard it all.
Once the changes were announced, people started talking. Some asked, “Do you think it had something to do with your race?” No. I definitely do not. Others asked, “Does it have something to do with your age?” Well, maybe. The business is very demographic-oriented. 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. It’s not difficult to notice that the new on-air people there are all young, blond and “hot.” That’s not to say that Erin isn’t capable. I think she’s very capable. She’s also popular on Twitter and social media, so I can see how that would also make her highly sought after. Still, covering the NFL is a big deal. Stations like ABC and NBC entrust their programming to veterans. So when people talk about all networks making a turn to a particular type of girl on the sidelines, it doesn’t hold water.
After going through a period of mourning, she said she “had to let it go” and then prepare for her final season on the sideline. She’ll remain with Fox and Fox Sports 1 as a senior reporter.
Two weeks after meeting with my bosses, I woke up and said to myself, Okay, I’m supposed to learn something from this. My first step was to get back to my routine. Every morning I begin my day the same way: meditate, pray and affirm. I call it my “P.O. Power Hour” because it fortifies me. Through all the changes, I had abandoned the things that help me the most, and then I was wondering why I was so miserable! So I reinstated my Power Hour—I visualize what I want for my day, what I want for the big picture and what I hope for the world. Then I read the Bible until I’ve gotten the answer I need. With that, I began to feel better.
At times I’m ashamed of how tragic I was making things out to be. It’s just a job change. I’m not out on the streets. I’m not unemployed. Everybody wins: Fox gets its coveted reporter in the lead role and I get to do my sideline job for my twentieth and final year. I’m also looking forward to developing stories that interest me and delivering long-form pieces for FS1. That kind of work is like being in reporter heaven.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being on the sidelines. 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.