The upcoming season will be Pam Oliver’s 20th as a sideline reporter at FOX. It also will be her last as a sideline reporter at FOX.
As explained by Richard Deitsch of SI.com, Oliver will leave the sidelines after the 2014 campaign. For her farewell tour, she’ll bid adieu to the No. 1 Joe Buck/Troy Aikman broadcast team, sliding to the No. 2 outfit. Erin Andrews will be promoted to the top spot.
Oliver told Deitsch she got the news in April.
“To go from the lead crew to no crew was a little shocking,” Oliver explained. “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.”
But Oliver, 53, has nevertheless signed a long-term deal to remain with FOX in a variety of roles. Per Deitsch, Oliver will work on long-form features, specials, and major interviews. She’ll also do some work as a producer.
“Clearly it’s an expanded role that meets the needs of all the big events that FOX and FOX Sports 1 covers as well as the NFL on Fox,” FOX Sports president Eric Shanks told Deitsch. “I can’t think of a more respected person in the entire industry than Pam Oliver, and when you find out that Pam is going to be doing the interview, I don’t think you would say that anyone else would do the interview better. Her being a part of the FOX family now and in the future is really important to us. The move is hugely positive to where FOX Sports is going and building its journalistic chops and credibility 365 days and not just 17 days a year.”
As Deitsch points out, if FOX feels so strongly about Oliver’s journalistic chops, why won’t she still be chopping some in-game journalism wood from the sidelines of NFL games?
The answer could be the simplest and most obvious one. Some (not all, but some) networks view sideline reporting as a blend of in-game journalism and in-game eye candy, with a loose sliding scale balancing the two. Right or wrong, Oliver understands that.
“I live in the real world and I know that television tends to get younger and where women are concerned,” Oliver told Deitsch. “Just turn on your TV. It’s everywhere. And I’m not saying these younger girls don’t deserve a chance. I know I’ve had my turn.”
The real world also has real laws against age and gender discrimination, and it seems to be only a matter of time before a network gets a turn at defending against a lawsuit raising one or both of those claims.