ESPN host Sage Steele, who is outspoken about her Christian faith, rebuked her employer, the Walt Disney Company, for mandating vaccination against COVID-19.
During a podcast interview with former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, the “SportsCenter” host — who is vaccinated — said it’s “sick” and “scary” for Disney, which owns ESPN, to require its employees to take the shots.
“I didn’t want to do it,” said Steele, noting Disney gave employees until the end of the month to get inoculated against the virus. “But I work for a company that mandates it, and I had until Sept. 30 to get it done, or I’m out.”
While Steele told Cutler she “respects” everyone’s individual decision regarding vaccination, she added “to mandate it is sick and it’s scary to me in many ways.”
“But I have a job, a job that I love and, frankly, a job that I need,” the ESPN host said. “I’m not surprised it got to this point, especially with Disney. I mean, a global company like that. The mandate is what I really have an issue with. I don’t know what comes next, but I do know, for me personally, I feel defeated.”
“It’s one thing with masks,” she added. “It’s another thing when you force this.”
Steele has been critical of other pandemic-related restrictions in the past.
Last week, she commented on a juxtaposition of the number of children shot in Chicago this year — 302 — and the number of kids nationwide who have died of COVID-19, which is 214.
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“This sick trend continues as it has for years in Chicago,” she wrote. “Funny how no one talks about it publicly … much less does anything about it. But yes — let’s keep masking up our children!”
Steele’s concerns about Disney’s vaccination mandate comes the same week NBA superstar LeBron James, who is also inoculated against COVID-19, said people should be free to make their own choices about the shots.
“I don’t feel like, for me personally, that I should get involved in what people should do for their bodies and their livelihoods,” he said Tuesday.
Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac, who, like Steele, is outspokenly Christian, has foregone vaccination as well, stating his natural immunity to the virus negates the need for vaccination.
Steele shared Isaac’s comments on her Twitter account.
In mid-September, more than 30 employees of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, marched through the company’s shopping complex in protest of the brand’s vaccine mandate.
The demonstration’s organizer, Nick Caturano, a 16-year employee of Walt Disney World, said people should be “free to get this vaccine if they feel it’s going to be the best thing for them,” adding, “but to force people to get the vaccine, that’s another story.”
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