It came as a surprise to us all when veteran sports-broadcaster Pam Oliver, 53, was suddenly replaced by Erin Andrews, 36, after 19 seasons of service as a sideline reporter at the Fox Sports network. Oliver was offered a position at Fox’s fledgling secondary cable sports channel to give the “FS1 more reporting credibility.” The decision sparked major backlash from supporters, who accused Fox of ageism and racism. Oliver finally opened up, to Essence, about the shady business move.
“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,” she revealed. “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.”
Oliver was informed of her position change in April, during a face-to-face meeting with her boss. “It took a while, but eventually it got down to them saying they wanted to ‘change direction within the company,’ she said. “They wanted me to work primarily on specials and long-form stories, but I told them I still wanted to do sideline reporting. It was important to me to have a twentieth season—to end on 19 is wack! I wanted 20.”
While Oliver took the news with grace around her colleagues, she broke down in private. “When we said our good-byes, there were hugs all around. I thought I’d handled it pretty well, but when I left the restaurant, I got into my car and noticed my hands were shaking. I was like, ‘Okay, that hurt.'”
It took Oliver two weeks to recover as she struggled with thoughts about future Sunday nights that didn’t include the chill from the NFL sideline. “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!”
After Oliver got back into her therapeutic routine, she realized that her new job wasn’t a death sentence. “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.” She added, “I’m headed into this season knowing it’s time to say my good-byes. I’m going savor every moment.”
We’re inspired by Oliver resilience, however disheartening it may be. Her story is just proof that despite one’s work ethic, appearance seems to be what matters. How shallow…
Read the full interview on Essence.com.
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