Jeff Pearlman

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Women in sports media: intelligence and talent lose out—yet again

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A true professional.

Just learned from this Richard Deitsch piece that Pam Oliver, the excellent, intelligent, informed Fox Sports NFL stalwart, will no longer serve as the network’s top sideline reporter.

She has been replaced by Erin Andrews.


Anyone who has worked in sports media long enough knows what this is. And it sucks.

Oliver is, truly, as good as it gets at this sort of job. She knows how to interview, and doesn’t merely ask fluff nonsense. She’s quick on the fly, researches the hell out of games, has a long and storied history of asking the right question at the right moment. She also has never, ever, ever used the medium to turn herself into a nonsense-endorsing celebrity spokesperson for dietary supplements and the like. In pro athlete translation, Erin Andrews would be, oh, Mark Sanchez; Pam Oliver is Peyton Manning.

However, Pam Oliver is also 53. And African-American. She isn’t white and blonde and perky. These days, that’s what sideline reporters almost always are—blonde and perky. They’re eye candy for the neanderthals who need eye candy.

It sucks. Men can do these gigs forever. Nobody demotes Chris Berman or Phil Simms or Troy Aikman as they age. Nobody ever will.


  • Wyn6

    Here! Here!

  • Joseph Paul Caranante Jr.

    Well said

  • Anyone who hasn’t noticed the decline of the NFL product in the past decade hasn’t been paying attention.

  • Lesa Duke

    Gee Bias or jealous that she is able to stay around longer than Sanchez? While you call Erin Andrews out for products you better start naming the men who sale products. Looks get you in the door but 10 years in the business EA has shown she is talented &she knows sports even has some Sport Emmys! Sure the contract she has is much better than most as she isn’t a bimbo & has an attorney,manager etc that makes sure she gets an excellent deal. She is an excellent interviewer & if you wouldn’t let that she is blonde & a woman get in the way maybe you could make comments that wouldn’t show how biased you are as it was only a few months ago you apologized to her. Just shows the apology was just to save face? I’m sorry that Pam Oliver is forced to change her job but the fact is the story should be about Fox Sports not used to run EA down!

  • Frank Pfeffer

    I see. Now that Pam has a little extra time on her hands, maybe she’ll go out with me. Just one date. Toodles, Pfeff.

  • rich

    First, Erin Andrews is talented but she does shill products. But so do Chris Berman, John Gruden, Michael Strahan, etc, etc, etc.

    And this has nothing to do with race or sex, but I just don’t think Pam Oliver was that good. Probably because she is a sideline reporter who usually only gets to tell us what we already know. That is why I don’t think it matters who the sideline reporter is. They don’t really add much

  • Paul C

    Set aside the fact that outside her “day job,” Erin Andrews shills for products of questionable health benefit. Big whoop. So does Jamie Lee Curtis, unquestionably a qualified professional actress. So do lots of present and former athletes — and their coaches. I don’t believe in looking in someone else’s pockets. If she can make the money, and do it legally, more power to her. It says absolutely zero about whether Erin Andrews is a “qualified” sideline reporter.

    She clearly is, given that the main “qualifications” are so minimal as to be risible: she can listen to the network voice feed in her ear and parrot what she’s told without stumbling too badly; she can smile and show lots of white teeth; she can ask inane questions; she can not follow up on any of the inane answers she gets; and she can look like some adenoidal males’ idea of “eye candy.” That’s what being an NFL sideline “reporter” is, these days. It’s a position practically invented to showcase attractive female sportscasters, and only for that purpose; certainly not to report or generate real news. I mean, it’s not like she OR PAM OLIVER is asked to do any in-depth or investigative reporting.

    Pam Oliver is good at what she does. But in the end, what she does is excel at a very “fluffy” part of NFL broadcasting. I agree that the whole age discrimination thing, especially as to women (and, I suspect, especially as to African-American women) is a crying shame. But we’re talking about sideline “reporters” — and that word is deliberately placed in quotation marks. NFL broadcasts are not particularly improved by the existence and performance of sideline “reporters”; and their absence from the sidelines would make not a whit of difference to anyone other than adolescent boys with too many hormones.

  • Kurt

    Jeff Pearlman must be the biggest homo on the planet. Erin Andrews is a great sideline reporter and yes, she is much, much hotter than Pam Oliver. So what if Oliver is black? Should black people be immune from firing simply because of the color of their skin? Oliver probably only got her sideline job in the first place because she is black!

  • Leroy Kelly

    Perhaps if Berman had surgery and got himself the same breast implants Andrews has, he would be promoted to an off-air executive position so I’d never have to see or hear his fat face ever again.

  • Johnny Nebraska

    Jeff, you were right about Andrews, she’s been completely unexceptional as a host and sideline reporter at Fox and seems to spend more time on her makeup than staying informed.

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