Former ESPN broadcaster Sage Steele recently opened up about her experiences at the network, particularly regarding her stance on transgender inclusion in women’s sports. In an episode of the “Gaines for Girls” podcast, hosted by OutKick contributor Riley Gaines, Steele discussed how she was instructed by ESPN to refrain from tweeting or commenting on social media about transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.
Steele, who served as a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during President Donald Trump’s tenure, has been vocal about her views on transgender athletes competing in women’s sports. Despite ESPN’s directive, Steele sent out another tweet on the issue, emphasizing her commitment to standing up for women’s rights in sports.
She expressed frustration over being silenced on this particular issue while other non-sports-related topics were freely discussed on ESPN’s sports programming. Steele highlighted the contradiction in ESPN’s approach, noting that while the network promoted women’s empowerment, it discouraged open discussion on the topic of transgender athletes in women’s sports.
Steele also mentioned that fellow broadcaster Sam Ponder received similar instructions from ESPN. Despite feeling unsupported by most at the company during this time, Steele found an ally in Ponder.
Reflecting on her role as a prominent figure in ESPNW, ESPN’s women’s summit, Steele felt disheartened by the network’s decision to feature Lia Thomas in a montage celebrating Women’s History Month. She had hoped for more coverage of the story on her show, which never materialized.
Steele’s comments on the podcast shed light on the challenges and dilemmas faced by broadcasters in navigating sensitive topics like transgender inclusion in sports. Her decision to speak out, despite potential professional risks, underscores the ongoing debate and complexity surrounding this issue in the sports world and beyond.