While the first week of the 2013 National Football League season is underwraps, Pam Oliver is still enjoying a celebrity status. Ironically, this newfound fame has nothing to do with her skills as an NFL reporter or as a respected female sports journalist.
Instead, her fame is attributed to Chandler Harnish. Prior to a very exciting preseason match between the New York Giants and the visiting Indianapolis Colts, Pam Oliver was on the sidelines preparing for the broadcast.
With close to two decades of experience as a sideline reporter for the NFL on FOX, Oliver was hit in the cheek by a football. With Harnish, a backup to Andrew Luck, practicing some throwing routes, one of his passes went a little wide, making Oliver the unfortunate recipient.
Although Oliver deserves to be celebrated for her long-time contributions in the traditionally male-dominated world of NFL football, her claim to fame is being part of a viral video. To be fair, Harnish is in the same situation. The last pick in the 2012 NFL Draft (253rd Overall), known affectionately as Mr. Irrelevant, he was the starting quarterback at Northern Illinois University for four years.
While he apologized to Oliver via Twitter after the game, the two shall be connected for years to come. Even if he were to win a Super Bowl one day, he will always be remembered for that wide pass that smacked Oliver.
Through it all, Oliver handled it with grace and class. A former College All-American in the 400-meter and the mile relay at Florida A&M University, Oliver is no novice to sport. Luckily she was not injured and displayed professionalism by continuing her reporting duties.
Even during the broadcast of the preseason tilt, Fox showed the painful pass during the third quarter. Adding to the drama was the fact that the footage was displayed in slow motion. While Oliver laughed it off, some websites could not help but call it a compelling reason to watch preseason football.
Last season, another reporter, Ian Rapoport was also hit by a football in the preseason. Covering the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers, he was the victim at Reliant Stadium which sparked controversy. Another viral sensation, the speculation is that it was an intentional hit.
Although he did not receive an apology, it may be time to have sideline reporters designated at specific areas. When one looks at the apparatus used by field goal kickers (with protective netting), it may be wise to have something similar nearby for protection.
The idea of a reporter as a target or an unintentional recipient is bad business for any sport. While sport will always have its blooper-like moments, such as tripping on the ice or throwing a ceremonial first pitch poorly, a sideline reporter being injured should not be one of them.