The Sports SpectrumPodcast, which fuses sports and faith and is hosted by former ESPN producer Jason Romano, recently had Emily Austen on as a guest. Austen is a former sideline reporter for Fox Sports Florida and Fox Sports Sun who worked on the television broadcasts of the Orlando Magic and Tampa Bay Rays.
Appearing as a guest in June 2016 Facebook Live chat hosted by Barstool Sports, Austen disparaged people of Asian, Jewish and Mexican heritage during a 35-minute roundtable chat. She also called Cavaliers forward Kevin Love a “little b----” multiple times for good measure. That type of racial animus naturally didn’t sit well with her employers. In a statement to various outlets, Fox Sports Florida called the comments “insensitive” and “derogatory,” and fired her. Here is the piece I wrote last year where I asked people who worked in sports media whether someone could find work in the business after such comments.
Since then, Austen has spent the year talking to college athletic programs such as Alabama, LSU, and North Texas about how one can destroy a career, and reputation and the perils of social media. I met with Austen a couple of months ago in New York for coffee and while it’s impossible to have a sense of someone after a couple of hours, she was repeatedly contrite, took ownership of what she did, and was looking to talk to people in the business about whether someone who had said what she did could get a second chance in the business.
The podcast with Romano is worth listening to, especially the part about what happened after her Barstool comments.
“It was taken away so fast and I deserved to be fired,” Austen told Romano. “Don’t get that confused. I deserved these consequences. People should have to consequences for their mistakes and decisions. That is part of life...Losing my career was not the worst part of this. Not the hardest part. The worst part of this was being painted as this monster on social media, this evil person and understanding that my words hurt so many people and not having the power to take them back. The internet painted me as this monster but guess who gave them the paint? I did. That’s why I am sitting here and not running away from this...I’m trying to take ownership and accountability for my mistake.”