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Pam Oliver on her start in sports journalism


Pam Oliver, the longest-tenured sideline reporter in the National Football League, is one of the most decorated figures in the sports industry. Oliver was recently featured on the Her Playbook podcast, where she discussed her journey and highlighted her experiences in the sports broadcast world.

Although Oliver is most known for her coveted sports reporting, it was not always that way. Oliver reminisced on her passion for news in her early adolescent years. She recalled running in the house from whatever activity she was partaking in when it came time for the six o'clock live-action news.

The ball started to roll for Oliver when she was eight or nine, when she would participate in local sporting events such as the summer softball league.

"I fell in love with sports, hook-line-and-sinker," Oliver said. "It was not a matter of looking at it and saying, 'Well, I'm a female and only this pertains to me.' I would jump out to play baseball with the guys in a minute. They weren't excited to see me, but I was out there and that's how it all started for me at a very young age, and it just struck."

Oliver attended Florida A&M University, where she was an All-American track and field star and helped lead the university to its first women's national championship. Recently, Oliver has been inducted in their Sports Hall of Fame. Additionally, Florida A&M is also where she got her first taste of reporting. She was able to parlay her work on the track into opportunities with the University's athletic department and put together stories for the Orlando Sentinel.

Before an opportunity came up in sports, Oliver spent the better part of her early career covering agriculture and news in the Tampa area in the 80s. Even though she did not know much, the fast-paced environment enabled her to learn a lot before making the transition to sports.

"I would tell young women and men these days to submerge yourself in the industry," Oliver said. "Just having the ability to participate in those levels was very helpful to me later in my career."

When the chance to cover sports was presented to Oliver, she admitted she had given up on the ability to have a career in sports reporting. Thus, she fully immersed herself in news. However, her colleagues were able to talk her into it and the rest is history.

For Oliver, she highlighted her storytelling capabilities and relationship building with players as key factors in her successful career.

"I'm just as curious about what goes on off the field as I am on," Oliver said. "Those things matter in building relationships. They know they can trust me with things off the record. It's a matter of building trust, not always about the key to the game.

"It's not always about the X's and O's, it's about them (the players)."

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