Pam Oliver’s demise as the sideline reporter for the NFL’s No. 1 reporting team, a role she had for the past 19 years, is tragic as it is pathetic, mostly because of the suspicion of what was ultimately at the root of her demotion: Black Twitter.
Just shy of her 20th anniversary as a pioneering, glass-ceiling-shattering female sports reporter, too many African Americans discarded her illustrious career to obsess with her tresses. Black social media users mutilated her on a weekly basis for the past two years or so, to the point where embarrassed and exasperated executives were probably forced to replace here with the talented blond bombshell Erin Andrews.
It went beyond critiquing of Oliver. It was just plain brutality.
ESPN’s Jemele Hill succinctly summarized the sentiments of Pam Oliver supporters when she spat out these words in disgust about “Black Twitter”:
Oliver will relinquish her sideline duties after the upcoming NFL season to focus on long-form pieces, some producing and Showtime specials according to the report. She will be the sideline reporter for the number two team on the network this season.
Oliver shied away from saying anything negative about Andrews, and she never mentioned social media trolls, though she told Sports Illustrated: “I live in the real world and I know that television tends to get younger where women are concerned.
“Just turn on your TV. It’s everywhere,” she added. “And I’m not saying these younger girls don’t deserve a chance. I know I’ve had my turn.”
Though she will now report on the sidelines for the No. 2 NFL reporting team, Oliver did sign a new multi-year contract with Fox and is expected to be on the air for the foreseeable future.
With the demotion comes a major consolation prize, as Fox brass pointed out.
“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 SI.com. “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.”
Still, the way she was treated by Black Twitter was reminiscent of the nightmare behavior towards history-making Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas. While she was doing something that never had been done before — by anyone, ever — the only thing that many black social media user could focus on was the few strands of hair that were out of place. And let’s not even mention the ferocious feeding frenzy that ensues whenever Beyonce’s daughter Blue Ivy’s image is captured in public with unkempt hair.
If there is a second consolation, it’s that at least two of them are famous and accomplished enough to garner the type of scrutiny which invites unaccomplished vermin to throw stones at them.
Take a look at the worst social media slander of Oliver, which included some who stood up for Oliver’s magnificent career as an NFL reporter for the past two decades: