ESPN's Sage Steele Speaks Out against Biological Males in Female Sports, Urges Peers to Join Her

Michael Foust | Contributor | Wednesday, April 5, 2023
ESPN's Sage Steele Speaks Out against Biological Males in Female Sports, Urges Peers to Join Her

ESPN's Sage Steele Speaks Out against Biological Males in Female Sports, Urges Peers to Join Her

An ESPN SportsCenter host is speaking out on the issue of transgender athletes competing in women's sports and urging her media colleagues to do the same by endorsing the message of former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines.

Sage Steele, the co-anchor for the noon (ET) SportsCenter, tweeted an endorsement on Tuesday of a viral video by Gaines, who is seen testifying before a Virginia House of Representatives committee and opposing the participation of biological males in female sports. Specifically, Gaines criticized the NCAA for allowing Penn's Lia Thomas to compete in the NCAA championships, where Thomas – who is biologically male but identifies as female – won a national title. Thomas competed on the men's team for three years.

In March, ESPN posted a segment celebrating Women's History Month by spotlighting transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.

Steele did not mention her employer or the controversial segment but made clear she stands with Gaines and her position.

"After an incredible weekend of well-deserved publicity for female athletes, I hope that ALL women – including my peers in the media – come together & support ALL female athletes … before it's too late," Steele wrote in a tweet accompanied by a video of Gaines' speech. "@Riley_Gaines_shouldn't be standing alone!!"

Steele indicated she agrees with Gaines "100 percent."

In the three-minute video, Gaines asserted that the NCAA was violating federal law. Gaines was a 12-time NCAA All-American and a five-time SEC champion.

"In 1972, Congress enacted Title IX to end unjust sex discrimination and all aspects of education, including college athletics," Gaines said. "But by allowing Thomas to displace female athletes in the pool and on the podium, the NCAA intentionally and explicitly discriminated on the basis of sex. Although the NCAA claimed it acted in the name of inclusion, its policies, in fact, excluded female athletes."

Thomas beat out "the most impressive and accomplished female athletes in the country, including Olympians and American record holders. The previous year, Gaines said, Thomas "at best was ranking in the 400s in the men's category."

Gaines further criticized the NCAA for forcing the female swimmers to share a locker with Thomas, who was "fully intact with male genitalia," Gaine said.

"Let me be clear: We were not forewarned, we were not asked for our consent, and we did not give our consent. If nothing else, I hope you can truly see how this is a violation of our privacy," Gaines said. "And how some of us have felt uncomfortable, awkward, embarrassed and even traumatized by this experience. I know I don't speak for everyone – it's impossible to speak for everyone. But I can attest to the tears that were shed on that pool deck by these poor ninth and 17th-place finishers who missed out on being named an All-American by one place, and I can attest to the extreme discomfort in the locker room when you turn around, and there's a male watching you undress while exposing himself. I can attest to the anger and frustration from these girls who had worked so hard and sacrificed so much to get to this point."

"Unfortunately," Gaines added, "our experiences are not unique. The number of female athletes who have been denied opportunities, again traumatized or hurt by policies that claim to be promoting inclusion, is growing at an alarming rate around this country. It's simply unacceptable and the integrity of women's sports is lost."

Steele has also hosted SportsCenter at such remote locations as the Masters, the PGA Championship and the College Football Playoff. She also has hosted ABC's telecast of the Tournament of Roses Parade.


ESPN Blasted for Celebrating Trans Swimmer in 'Women's History Month' Segment

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jesse Grant/Stringer

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

ESPN's Sage Steele Speaks Out against Biological Males in Female Sports, Urges Peers to Join Her