In the two days since ESPN announced Sage Steele would be supplanted as host of NBA Countdown by Michelle Beadle, Steele has been subjected to a fair amount of ridicule on social media.
Apparently, ESPN President John Skipper had seen enough and defended Steele in a statement to USA TODAY Sports on Thursday.
"Sage has done a wonderful job for us in a number of important roles," Skipper said. “As previously announced, her SportsCenter presence has grown and this week alone she has led our coverage from the men’s Final Four and the Masters. Sage definitively has a bright and long-term future at ESPN and my complete support."
Skipper and others at ESPN appear to be particularly irked by the fact that many celebrated the move as a firing. While nobody at ESPN has publicly stated why the network made the decision so late in the NBA season to change hosts of NBA Countdown, Steele has appeared prominently on the network’s Masters coverage this week and also as the lead host of SportsCenter on the Road.
Steele hasn’t posted on her Instagram or Twitter accounts since ESPN announced the change Tuesday. A few posts from those accounts have been levers for backlash in the past.
Her Instagram post from Los Angeles International Airport in January bemoaned the fact that travelers were inconvenienced by protesters who crowded the airport in the aftermath of President Trump’s first executive order that sought to stop travel to the USA from some Muslim-majority countries.
On Twitter, she criticized Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans’ national anthem protest in November.