Sideline reporters are members of a broadcasting team who give special reports from the sidelines of televised NFL games, which include parroting a coach's cliches, informing us about an obvious injury, or being hit on by a drunken Joe Namath.
The occupation that has since become known as "NFL Sideline Reporter" was invented in 1974 by ABC specifically for college football to highlight the unique lore of a school and cover the action that takes place on the sidelines (i.e. buttslaps and high-fives). It would be a way for the college student, and eventually the NFL fan, to be as close to their team as possible, to have access to the kind of information the normal commentators couldn't get from their elitist, heated booth. The job came into existence by way of a gimmicky talent search that sought to find someone as attractive as possible, but preferably had no journalistic or broadcast experience so as not to muddy the shallow waters, a tradition that exists to this day. Whenever a made-up job is filled by what essentially amounts to holding a beauty pageant, it's pretty clear that it's probably not the most necessary occupation in the world.
Miss California, Miss Texas, and Miss Massachusettes
35 years later, sideline reporters are still being utilized by almost every major television network that broadcasts NFL games (the NFL network being one of the exceptions which sends a clear message as to how the NFL itself feels about sideline reporters) and the job is just as pointless as it turned out being in 1974, if not moreso. Today, the average NFL fan has extensive knowledge about the ins and outs of the game, so much so in fact, that whatever a reporter can dig up on the sidelines is usually already understood or known by the viewers.
The job itself has always been a catch-22 in that the reporter's goal is to disseminate behind the scenes information that the viewers would never have known otherwise, but that sensitive information will never be given to a loud-mouthed reporter. Nor would she ever be allowed access to the true inner workings of the locker room during a game, what with all the naked dudes and towel snapping. Thus, sideline reporters always end up just repeating the usual sports cliches that coaches offer them, such as "We've got to play solid defense and score some points in the second half," or give us vague details about obvious injuries with even more vaguely worded timelines for their return, such as "questionable" or "doubtful", all of which could very easily be handled by the two higher paid, regular commentators. Well, at least they always look good, right?