By Jennifer Roback
Sage Steele is an American television anchor who is most famously known for her role on ESPN's 12pm SportsCenter.
On October 5, 2021, Steele made headlines after the media company suspended her after making controversial comments regarding Covid-19 vaccine mandates and Barack Obama during an interview on former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler's podcast, Uncut.
“If they make you choose a race, what are you gonna put? Well, both,” Steele said regarding Obama's decision to select "Black" as his ethnicity on the recent census.
“Barack Obama chose Black and he’s biracial…congratulations to the President, that’s his thing. I think that’s fascinating considering his Black dad is nowhere to be found but his white mom and grandma raised him, but okay. You do you. I’m gonna do me. Listen, I’m pretty sure my white mom was there when I was born. And my white family loves me as much as my Black family.”
Later on in the podcast, Steele then blamed harassment that woman journalists receive on the way they dress, telling young women, "when you dress like that, I'm not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you're doing when you put that outfit on."
Steele's comments sent the internet into outage and many people, including sports journalist Jemele Hill, were quick to call her out.
“So on top of thinking former President Obama shouldn’t identify as black because he didn’t have a relationship with his black father, Sage Steele also thinks female journalists who dress a certain way 'know what you’re doing when you’re putting that outfit on,'" Hill wrote on Twitter. Later calling her actions "clown behavior."
As Steele continued she then started to attack ESPN's Covid-19 vaccine mandates, calling them "sick" and "scary."
“I didn't want to do it,” Steele told Cutler. “But I work for a company that mandates it, and I had until Sept. 30 to get it done, or I'm out.”
She later went on to reveal that it was an emotional choice for her and her family.
“I respect everyone's decision. I really do. But to mandate it is sick, and it's scary to me in many ways,” Steele continued. "I'm not surprised it got to this point, especially with Disney. I mean, a global company like that."
Just days after the comments Steele then issued an apology after backlash from the media community.
"I know my recent comments created controversy for the company, and I apologize,” Steele wrote. “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.”
At this time, it remains unclear how long her suspension is but it has also been reported that she will no longer be the host for the 2021 "espnW: Women + Sports Summit," which is scheduled to take place from Oct 18 to 20.
In a statement, the network said: "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."