Last week, veteran ESPN host Sage Steele was removed from the air after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. But according to reports from Front Office Sports, the network’s decision to temporarily remove her goes far deeper than her positive diagnosis.
Steele has recently come under fire for controversial comments regarding ESPN’s COVID-19 vaccine policy and former United States president Barrack Obama. During an appearance on The Uncut with Jay Cutler, she called Walt Disney’s company-wide vaccine mandate “sick” and “scary” and criticized President Barack Obama’s decision to identify as Black despite his Black father being “nowhere to be found.”
Steele also went on to opine about up-and-coming female sports journalists, saying they bear some responsibility for receiving harassment in a male-dominated workspace.
“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.
With the combination of these controversial comments and her positive test, the network decided it was best for Steele to take a break from her hosting duties.
Here’s ESPN’s statement regarding the hiatus from last week:
“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.”
Now one week after Steele was pulled from the air, ESPN has outlined her return to the desk. According to Mike McCarthy of FOS, the 14th-year employee will return to co-hosting SportsCenter this Thursday.
After she was pulled from the air, Steele apologized for creating controversy around a job she “loves” and “needs.”
“I know my recent comments created controversy for the company, and I apologize,” she 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.”
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