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ESPN's Sage Steele blasts protesters for disrupting her Super Bowl travel plans

ESPN's Sage Steele is under fire over comments she made about travel ban protesters. (Getty Images)
ESPN’s Sage Steele is under fire over comments she made about travel ban protesters. (Getty Images)

Americans flocked to U.S. airports over the weekend both to protest Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and to support a federal judge’s ruling against the president’s executive order, but ESPN reporter Sage Steele was seemingly more concerned about their disruption of her Super Bowl travel.

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Steele posted the following photo of a rally outside Los Angeles International Airport on Instagram:

Along with the following caption:

“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.”

Steele’s lack of empathy for immigrants from the seven predominantly Muslim countries affected by Trump’s ban over the weekend — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — drew heavy criticism. After all, she was slightly inconvenienced by missing a flight to Houston for the Super Bowl, while many with valid visas and refugee status were detained and even deported over the weekend.

Among that criticism:

Despite the backlash, Steele remained steadfast on her stance in several social media responses:

This was not Steele’s first foray into politics. The daughter of a U.S. Army Colonel, she criticized Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans for his kneeling national anthem protest of Trump in November:

During the presidential election period, ESPN ordered its employees to “refrain from political editorializing,” and the company fired Major League Baseball analyst Curt Schilling following several violations of that policy in April 2016. Steele seemed to heed that advice when she cut Arcade Fire singer Win Butler short as he commented on healthcare following the NBA All-Star Weekend celebrity game, saying, “So, we’re talking about celebrity stuff, not politics. Congratulations on your MVP.”

Straying from another apparent ESPN policy regarding public criticism of colleagues, ESPN Radio host Dan Le Batard did just that in questioning the company’s selective enforcement. Via SliceMiami.com:

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“The genie is out of the bottle on this because we all have our own Twitter accounts and all have our own social media,” he said. “This is what ESPN is trying to prevent because once one person does it, it opens the floodgates for the rest of us because of course, I, as the son of exiles, look at this and I’m like what the hell are you talking about [that] your travel plans were affected? What are you talking about? The height of privilege …

“But you can’t give this a voice and then muzzle the rest of us. You can’t give Sage Steele this voice and muzzle the son of exile.”

It’ll be interesting to see how ESPN handles Steele’s responsibilities once she does arrive in Houston.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!