On the sports journalism ladder, the sideline reporter usually places just above the Fantasy Football reporter.
Typically, this is the reserve talent forced to stay on the sidelines and eavesdrop on coaches’ bickering, trainers’ questioning, and top draft picks’ prayers. When it’s cold, they freeze; when it’s raining, they get wet; when it’s time for a commercial break, no one cares. For almost 20 years on FOX Sports, Pam Oliver. has done this job, eventually earning a regaled spot on the “A team” with Troy Aikman and, yes, Joe Buck.
Recently, however, the FOX Sports grand poobahs sidelined Oliver for a younger model — Erin Andrews. It took a while, but Oliver finally sounded off on that hire. Loudly.
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.
What it comes down to, Sports fans, is this:
There could some gripes made in this case, but Oliver stayed classy:
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, blonde 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.
Why isn’t this story a much bigger deal? Why aren’t we claiming #PRFail? Why isn’t there more outcry over this travesty of justice?
It’s probably because there’s nothing to see here, people: Joe Buck’s job is perfectly safe.