Ever since she joined ESPN in 2007, Sage Steele has been one of the most influential voices on the network. She has taken her reporting talents to some of ESPN's biggest programs, such as SportsCenter and NBA Countdown, and has even translated her success in the sports world to hosting gigs on the Miss America pageant.
Lately, however, Sage has been in the news for reasons beyond her commentary on professional sports. She recently made controversial comments — about COVID-19 vaccine mandates, a former president, and female journalists — that have landed her in hot water. So, what exactly did Sage say? Keep reading for all of the known details.
What did Sage Steele say that was so controversial?
Sage has long been known to harbor more conservative viewpoints than a lot of her ESPN colleagues, but recently her stance on a few key topics has made her the subject of controversy within the network and with fans alike.
During a recent appearance on Jay Cutler's podcast, Uncut With Jay Cutler, Sage made some bold claims about COVID-19 vaccine mandates at ESPN, Barack Obama's ethnicity, and the wardrobe choices of female journalists.
To start, Sage told Jay that she felt as though ESPN's parent company, Disney, is "sick" for requiring that its employees be vaccinated, further noting that although she "didn't want to" get the vaccine, she did so to keep her job.
Next, Sage commented on former President Barack Obama identifying as Black, something she seemingly took issue with.
According to The Washington Post, Sage voiced her opinion on the former president's 2010 Census response, where he selected "African American." "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.
Sage also told Jay about how she has rejected aspiring female journalists in the past because she felt as though they presented themselves in an overly sexualized manner, something she seemingly disagrees with.
"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," she said during the podcast. "Like, women are smart, so don't play coy and put it all on the guys."
Due to her comments (and a recent positive COVID-19 test) Sage has been taken off the air on ESPN.
Officials at ESPN didn't take Sage's comments lightly, and now she is off the air for an indefinite amount of time. Although Sage recently tested positive for COVID-19, per Variety, which definitely played a part in her being off the air, her controversial statements are also responsible for her current absence from the network.
"At ESPN, we embrace different points of view — dialogue and discussion makes this place great. 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. We are having direct conversations with Sage, and those conversations will remain private," the network explained in a statement.
Sage also issued her own statement through the network, reflecting on her comments to Jay during the podcast. In it, she apologized for creating controversy within the company and emphasized constructive communication as one of her values going forward.
"I know my recent comments created controversy for the company, and I apologize. 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," she said.