Sage Steele, an ESPN reporter and anchor, has been slammed on social media for an Instagram post she shared from Los Angeles International Airport on January 29, as thousands gathered to protest President Donald Trump‘s immigration executive order. Sage said she was “saddened” to the protesters’ “joy on their faces” as they disrupted people trying to get to their flights.
The 44-year-old Steele is the mother of three children – Evan, Quinn and Nicholas. Her husband is Jonathan Bailey.
Here’s a look at what Steele wrote on Instagram and ESPN’s policy on political statements from their reporters, as well as a look at Steele’s career.
1. Steele Wrote That She Saw ‘The Joy’ on Protesters’ Faces Because They Disrupted People’s Travel Plans
Steele’s post was seen by many as inconsiderate. She complained about her and her team missing a flight to Houston, even though she was able to get onto another flight without a hassle. She even suggested that the protests were negatively effecting immigrants.
Here’s Steele’s full comment:
So THIS is why thousands of us dragged luggage nearly 2 miles to get to LAX, but still missed our flights. Fortunately, a 7 hour wait for the next flight to Houston won’t affect me that much, but my heart sank for the elderly and parents with small children who did their best to walk all that way but had no chance of making their flights. I love witnessing people exercise their right to protest! But it saddened me to see the joy on their faces knowing that they were successful in disrupting so many people’s travel plans. Yes, immigrants were affected by this as well. Brilliant. 🇺🇸
The post was met with comments from many disappointed with her statement. After all, at least she was able to get on a plane easily and wasn’t detained like some immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries were.
“At least you were able to get on a plane?” one person wrote. “Why are you mad? Because you’re spoiled and privileged? Since you care so much about the elderly, what about the Grandparents of a young woman who were DETAINED for hours because of their race. What would you do if this was happening to black people which it soon will be? Girl bye!”
Steele later responded to critics with a tweet:
2. Steele Criticized a Tampa Bay Buccaneers Player for Kneeling During the National Anthem
Steele, an Indiana University alum, calls herself an “Army brat” on her Twitter page. As The Washington Post notes, her father, was a U.S. Army Colonel.
In November 2016, Steele criticized Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Mike Evans for protesting Donald Trump’s election victory.
After Steele’s comments about Evans, Steele posted a long statement about diversity on her Facebook page:
She also infamously stopped Arcade Fire musician Win Butler when he tried to talk about health care after an NBA all-star celebrity game in February 2016.
3. ESPN Told Its Journalists to Stay Away From Making Political Comments During the Presidential Campaign
In January 2016, the ESPN Editorial Board told ESPN journalists and on-air talent to avoid taking political positions during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“All interviews, features, enterprise efforts or produced pieces with a sports angle, including attempts at humor, involving candidates must first be approved by senior management team,” reads one of the guidelines. “This is to ensure a coordinated and fair effort, and includes location, interviewer, timing and format.”
Even if a political candidate appeared at a game ESPN was broadcasting, “announcers should avoid any political commentary or prolonged references,” the guidelines read.
Following the creation of the new guidelines, Curt Schilling was fired and college football announcer Paul Finebaum had to apologize for his comments on Colin Kaepernick’s protests.
However, this did not stop a handful of ESPN reporters from making comments about the immigration ban. Pedro Gomez, whose parents were Cuban refugees wrote to someone who was complaining about him retweeting news:
Josina Anderson also wrote that it was “disturbing” that Olympian Mo Farah might be kept from seeing his children.
4. Steele’s Father Was the First Black Player on Army’s Varsity Football Team
Steele’s father is Gary Steele, who became a U.S. Army colonel. He was also became the first black player to play on Army’s varsity football team in 1966, The Baltimore Sun reported in a 2008 profile of Gary Steele.
Gary Steele never went into the NFL after college. Instead, he served in the Army for 23 years, then retired to work in human resources for the Kansas City school system and pharmaceutical giant Phizer.
During Black History Month in 2014, ESPN aired a special piece about Steele’s father.
“I had to convince my dad to do this, he didn’t want to do it,” Steele told ESPN in 2014. “He’s just so humble, that’s why I lost it when I saw it on TV. He deserves it and he won’t give it to himself. He showed everyone what a truly good human being is and how to overcome adversity with class. I’m so proud to be his daughter.”
5. She Wrote That Being Mistaken for Her Children’s Nanny is ‘Proof That Prejudice and Stereotypes Will Always Remain’
In a guest blog post for People Magazine in May 2015, Steele wrote that her children have lighter complexions than she does because her husband is white and she is half-white. They’re only “a quarter dark,” she likes to joke.
She wrote of one experience where two women asked her if she was her child’s nanny after she went out for the first time with her first daughter in 2002. “For someone to blatantly stereotype me — on so many different levels — just because my kids don’t look like me, and then choose to verbalize it, is proof that prejudice and stereotypes will always remain,” she wrote.
She wrote that she has been asked the same question a “dozen or so times.” Her go-to response is “Am I the NANNY? Nope. I actually carried her for 9 months and pushed her out myself!”
“So, as much as my natural instinct is to lash out with some choice words, I have found that I tend to feel much better afterwards by subtly, gracefully putting clueless people in their place, while hopefully setting a good example for my children,” she wrote for People Magazine.