ESPN suspended Sage Steele following her statements on a podcast, during which she called the company’s vaccine mandate “sick” and commented on former President Barack Obama’s father.
Steele, who is black, has been with ESPN for almost 15 years. She lost her spot as host of the espnW: Women + Sports Summit and will not appear in her normal SportsCenter slot for a week, according to a source.
She criticized Obama for selecting “black” as his ethnicity on the census.
“I’m like, ‘Well, congratulations to the president. That’s his thing.’ I think that’s fascinating considering his black dad was nowhere to be found, but his white mom and grandma raised him, but hey, you do you. I’m going to do me,” she said.
Steele took offense to ESPN’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, calling it “sick” and saying she only received the vaccine out of fear of losing her job.
“I respect everyone’s decision. I really do. But to mandate it is sick, and it’s scary to me in many ways,” Steele said. “I’m not surprised it got to this point, especially with Disney. I mean, a global company like that.”
She commented on sexism in journalism, saying that women “know what [they’re] doing” when they wear certain clothes.
“So when you dress like that, I’m not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you’re doing when you’re putting that outfit on, too,” Steele said. “Like, women are smart, so don’t play coy and put it all on the guys.”
The network released a statement addressing Steele’s comments.
“At ESPN, we embrace different points of view — dialogue and discussion makes this place great,” said the company. “That said, we expect that those points of view be expressed respectfully, in a manner consistent with our values, and in line with our internal policies.”
Steele apologized for her remarks in a statement.
“I know my recent comments created controversy for the company, and I apologize,” Steele said. “We are in the midst of an extremely challenging time that impacts all of us, and it’s more critical than ever that we communicate constructively and thoughtfully.”