‘A Hill I Will Die On’: Sage Steele Says ESPN Told Her Not To Talk About Lia Thomas. She Disobeyed.

"... tell me to stop supporting women. Go ahead, tell me."
SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele at the espnW Women + Sports Summit held at The Resort at Pelican Hill on October 23, 2019 in Newport Beach, California.
Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Ex-ESPN anchor Sage Steele says her former employer told her to stop talking about trans collegiate swimmer Lia Thomas dominating women’s swimming — a request she disobeyed.

Steele, speaking to top NCAA swimmer-turned-advocate Riley Gaines, said that sticking up for female athletes, such as Gaines, was a “hill” she was willing to “die on.”

“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,” Steele recalled. “I made sure I sent off another tweet that night after I received that email. Because, no, let’s stop living in this lie.”

Steele noted that ESPN allowed other public figures at the company to speak about other issues, seemingly political issues, that had nothing to do with sports, while she was asked to stop speaking.

“I’m like, no, no, no, no, no. If we’re gonna preach on ESPN, and all of these things, then I’m gonna stand up for all these women — many of whom are afraid to do what Riley Gaines is doing, to do what I’m doing, at a much lesser level than Riley.”

“I actually said this to myself,” Steele said, “This is a hill I will die on, 100%.”

“These are facts, this is science, this is biology — come at me, tell me I’m wrong, tell me to stop supporting women,” Steele continued. “Go ahead, tell me.”

Last year, Gaines competed in the women’s 200 freestyle at the NCAA Division I Women’s Championships and placed fifth, tying with trans-identifying swimmer Lia Thomas, who previously competed on men’s teams. Thomas was given the only fifth place trophy for the photo-op after the event, while Gaines was told by the NCAA that her trophy would come in the mail.

The ESPN standout was taken off ESPN airwaves and pulled from high-profile assignments after she criticized ESPN and The Walt Disney Co.’s COVID vaccine mandate during an appearance on Jay Cutler’s podcast, “Uncut.” Steele later sued ESPN.


“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,” her attorney Bryan Freedman said last year. “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.”

The lawsuit was settled this year, and Steele left ESPN to exercise her “first amendment rights more freely,” she wrote on social media.

Related: WATCH: Sparks Fly Between Riley Gaines And Dem Rep During Hearing On Biden Proposal To Rewrite Title IX

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  ‘A Hill I Will Die On’: Sage Steele Says ESPN Told Her Not To Talk About Lia Thomas. She Disobeyed.