Former Fox Sports Florida sideline reporter Emily Austen may have effectively killed her media career with several racist comments made during an appearance on a Barstool Sports Facebook Live video in June 2016. Austen was fired by Fox Sports Florida and Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch polled several people involved in sports media — executives, agents, PR reps, and on-air personalities — who all thought that it would be difficult for her to find work again.
Virtually everyone Deitsch talked to felt that a sincere apology from Austen was key into salvaging her career. Unfortunately, her attempt at an apology didn’t really take responsibility for her comments and even showed a lack of awareness regarding what consequences she was sure to suffer as a result.
More than a year later, Austen appeared on the Sports Spectrum podcast with former ESPN producer Jason Romano. The show focuses on the intersection between sports and faith in our culture, and her conversation with Romano addressed her firing, what she’s been doing since then and what role her faith has played in that process. Austen has been speaking to athletes at programs such as Alabama and Florida State about the hazards of social media, and how saying the wrong thing can adversely affect someone’s reputation and career.
“It was taken away so fast and I deserved to be fired,” Austen said on the podcast. “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.”
Whether or not Austen will be able to rehabilitate her career remains to be seen. But that also may be besides the point. Even if being hired again in media is not an option, maybe she’s found a new career in trying to counsel those against making the same mistakes she did.