Reading Between the Blurred Lines of Pam Oliver and her "Clearly Expanded" Fox Sports Role

Reading Between the Blurred Lines of Pam Oliver and her "Clearly Expanded" Fox Sports Role
Does this woman look 53? Fox Sports' Pam Oliver was demoted in favor of Erin Andrews for NFL Football

I can't read the minds of the Fox Sports executives who came up with the plan to scrap #1 sideline reporter Pam Oliver, a respected, 53-year old, beautiful African-American, for the younger, perky blonde clone of everyone at Fox News/Fox Sports1, Erin Andrews, who's 36.

What I can tell you is that Oliver, who looks 15 years younger than her age, and appears to be the only African-American female sports reporter at Fox, is that the decision to replace her smacks of ageism and racism, and plays perfectly into the stereotype of what the so-called 'libtards' and 'liberal media' (Fox' words)  think about Fox Broadcasting in general.

Here's what Fox Sports executives said in a statement about demoting Oliver, the most prominent woman sportscaster in the nation, thanks to 16 heavily watched NFL games (and in the odd year, the Super Bowl,) which brings billions of advertising revenue to the Fox Network annually:

We’ve developed what’s clearly an expanded role for Pam that better meets the needs of FOX Sports and FOX Sports 1 and the big events we cover, while enabling her to work on many of our big NFL games throughout the season. Pam’s new role helps us build our journalistic chops and credibility 365 days a year, not just 17. Our decision had absolutely nothing to do with race or age."

Fox Sports statement, via Poynter,  on the demotion of Pam Oliver as its #1 sideline reporter.

What can you say about a network that hires a majority of white men and women?  Most frequently, they look like Andrews. Interchangeably, the women have blonde hair, long legs and blue eyes.

Before Fox Sports signed her, Erin Andrews was a fixture on ESPN College GameDay

Before Fox Sports signed her, Erin Andrews was a fixture on ESPN College GameDay

Blogger Jason McIntyre of "The Big Lead," said it best in an August 23rd, 2013 column:

"Fox Sports 1 Sure Has a Lot of Blonde Female Talent"

He called out the day crew, featuring Charissa Thompson, Julie Stewart-Binks, Georgie Thompson (no relation to Charissa, but called "the English Erin Andrews,) Danielle Trotta, Molly McGrath, etc.   Not a brunette among them. Or a redhead.

McIntyre also quotes Roger Ailes, the President of the Fox News channel, who told this to a journalism class in April 2013:

“I pick good people … although some people point out that most of them are blond … when women get into television, they dye their hair blond.”

They're also Caucasian, Roger.  Are there no African-American female reporters on Planet Earth (or Asian, etc.) who can put together credible sports reports and ask intelligent questions during broadcasts of America's most popular sport?

In a interview gone viral with SI.com's Richard Deitch, Oliver described her meeting with bosses, and  basically talked her way back to playing some role at the  network that apparently, was determined to 'retire' her, one way or another. She said:

" To go from the lead crew to no crew was a little shocking,” Oliver told SI.com. “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.”

Token Female's Translation:  Blurred Lines into Clear Reality

Basically, what Fox Sports said to Oliver in this meeting can be translated to the following:

"No matter what happens, Pam, we have to promote Erin Andrews to #1 sideline reporter. We've invested a lot of money to lure her away from ESPN. We're (likely) paying her more than we're paying you. She'll draw a bigger demographic than you do. Those Probiotic commercials are really working to raise her profile. And she's hot on 'Dancing With the Stars.' That's why she'll be working with Joe Buck now. 

But for the 18 years you've helped put us on the map for premier NFL coverage, after we stole the NFL away from CBS, you can still do a lot to blunt the criticism that Fox News/Sports is the network of white America and disgruntled African-Americans who remember how it was under the 'Solid South' when Democrats were in office.

Plus, we don't want a lawsuit we can't win.

So here's the deal, Pam. You help us look like we're not racist, sexist, and prejudiced and we'll keep your career going as best we can.  Even if, at 53, you're not the most desirable demographic on Planet Earth."

What choice did Oliver really have at that point, but to say, "I'll take it, boys!"

So, Token Female Nation, what say you? Pam Oliver, Erin Andrews, or no sideline reporters at all? Except maybe...Tony Siragusa?

 

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    Alison Moran

    Sports Commentator, WRLR 98.3 FM (http://wrlr.fm) Women's Sports Director, SRN Broadcasting; Guest Lecturer on Women's Sports/Women's Sports Issues

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