(TheIndependentStar.com) – Expressing opinions in today’s environment can often lead to trouble, especially if those views don’t align with mainstream ideas. For 15-year ESPN veteran Sage Steele, recent comments she made on a podcast have landed her in hot water with the network. It appears the Disney affiliate is not happy and punishing her for personal beliefs.
The Podcast That Started It All
Steele made an appearance on the podcast Uncut with Jay Cutler on September 29. Cutler, a former NFL quarterback, did start the broadcast by saying the ESPN host is very opinionated and may not always side with what is popular, so the audience knew what to expect.
As Steele began, she talked about why she won’t help female sportscasters who dress a certain way. She said they are somewhat responsible for treatment they receive. The host did say these women don’t deserve harassment, but added that she simply doesn’t want to associate with them.
Steele also talked about race, referring to Barbara Walters’ remarks during an interview on The View saying Steele had to choose whether to identify as black or white (she’s biracial). Walters said former President Barack Obama chose black. Steele replied that was fine for him, but she didn’t really understand this view since he lived his whole life in a white household with a white mother and no influence from his black father.
On the podcast with Cutler, Steele discussed the Disney mandate for all employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine, including ESPN employees. She said this mandate forced her to get the jab, but she wasn’t happy about it and feels everyone should get to make their own decision. The sports host remarked she finds mandates like this scary.
The Response from ESPN
ESPN said, while it accepts different opinions, it feels employees must express those viewpoints in an acceptable way. The company must not have found Steele’s dialogue acceptable because it suspended her from her regular show on SportsCenter for a week and took away her role as host for the espnW: Women + Sports Summit.
After the backlash, Steele apologized in a statement, saying she knew her thoughts were controversial as far as ESPN was concerned. The apology stopped short of saying she was sorry for having opinions that do not follow the progressive ideology.
Fortunately, her suspension is not permanent. While it is a shame ESPN feels a need to punish a long-time employee for using her freedom of speech, at least Steele will be back on TV soon enough.
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