Former ESPN anchor Sage Steele recently claimed that the sports network demanded that she stop discussing the controversial transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. However, Steele defied those orders, explaining that defending female sports was a “hill” she would “die on.”
Steele addressed the matter with conservative activist and former collegiate swimmer at the University of Kentucky Riley Gaines. In 2022, Gaines competed against Thomas, who swam for the University of Pennsylvania at the time, in the NCAA championship. Since then, Gaines has become a fierce advocate of defending women’s sports through political activism.
“I was asked to stop tweeting about it. I was asked to stop doing anything saying anything about it on social media because I was offending others at the company. I made sure I sent up another tweet that night after I received that email,” Steele said. “Because like no and it’s let’s stop living in this lie.”
Steele further explained that ESPN had allowed other individuals at the company to speak on politically charged topics that did not involve sports. The former anchor noted that if others were going to “preach” on such issues, she would not be prevented from defending women in a manner such as Riley Gaines.
And once again, oh, you’re going to your to silence me and Sam. She was told the same thing you know, for this issue. But then we’re gonna let everybody else talk about all these other things that are not even related to sports on our sports programming. And I’m like, no, no, no, no, no, if we’re gonna preach on ESPN W and all these things, and I’m going to stand up for all these women, many of whom are afraid to do what Riley Gaines is doing to do what I’m doing and I’m much lesser level than Riley than you right?” Steele added.
Steele passionately stated how she would refuse to back down from her defense of Gaines and broader women’s athletics. She further suggested that her stance is infallible and rooted in the fundamental properties of science and biology.
“But just no, and so that, that I actually said this to myself. As I was sending a tweet, the first tweet about you know, standing up and supporting you. I said, I already had the lawsuit going, you know, I mean, whatever. I didn’t know what how it was going to end but I literally said, this is a hill I will die on 100% Because it is it is facts. This isn’t even my opinion about a vaccine mandate or whatever. Like, these are facts. This is science. This is biology. This is all the things come at me. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me to stop supporting women. Go ahead, tell me,” she said.
Reportedly, Steele faced repercussions at ESPN for publicly criticizing the company’s COVID vaccine mandates during an appearance on Jay Cutler’s podcast “Uncut.” Steele went on to sue ESPN, citing violations of her freedom of speech guaranteed under the First Amendment.
According to Steele’s attorney, “Despite fully complying with ESPN’s policy, Sage Steele was punished for speaking her truth in violation of freedom of speech protections under Connecticut law and the U.S. constitution. ESPN violated her free speech rights, retaliated against her, reprimanded her, scapegoated her, allowed the media and her peers to excoriate her and forced her to apologize simply because her personal opinions did not align with Disney’s corporate philosophy of the moment. Sage is standing up to corporate America to ensure employees don’t get their rights trampled on or their opinions silenced.”