I’m a fanatical football fan. And I’m also a huge fan of Pam Oliver.
For nearly two decades, I’ve watched Oliver talk football on Fox television I’ll miss her sideline analysis, real-time insights, and conversational halftime interviews with the NFL’s top players. I watched with pride as Oliver, a skilled African-American journalist, excelled in a cutthroat profession dominated by white men.
All television assignments ultimately come to an end, but when news broke last week that Oliver, 53, the No. 1 sideline reporter for Fox NFL coverage, will be replaced after 19 years by Erin Andrews, a 36-year-old blonde, some folks immediately wondered if Oliver’s hair controversy contributed to her demotion.
I’m not up on hair trends, but I do know that critics on social media can be cruel. Some have compared Oliver’s hairstyle to Chewbacca, the wild-haired alien in the movie “Star Wars,” and others frequently took Oliver to task for looking disheveled on live national television.
I don’t know if criticism of Oliver’s hair concerned executives at Fox, but I did find it hypocritical that some Black folks who were scolding Oliver for her hairstyle are now criticizing Fox for replacing Oliver with Andrews.
Some have questioned if race played a role in Oliver’s move from the sidelines. It’s no secret that male executives prefer younger women on-air and Fox officials no doubt wanted Andrews because she’s 17 years younger than Oliver. Still, Oliver looks great for 53, despite the hair controversy and she’s a known entity to both viewers and players.
Others insist that Oliver’s demotion is a Fox misstep on the issue of diversity. But does Fox really care?