After a series of scam documentaries took the world by storm, the “Scam Culture” genre was born. With successful shows like The Dropout, Super Pumped, and WeCrashed, many tried to find the next big story. Oscar-winning directors Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe circled the sad tale of Bishop Sycamore. The fake high school, whose initials led to jokes about BS High, destroyed dozens of lives and put others at risk. By speaking to many of the big names who uncovered the story, Free and Roe give the story the proper emotional gravitas.
In 2021, Bishop Sycamore High School took on the powerhouse high school program IMG Academy. The nationally televised game quickly unraveled, with IMG blowing out Bishop Sycamore 58-0. Yet the number of injuries sustained by Bishop Sycamore and the age of their players drew increased attention. A media firestorm began as the story about the fake high school and its students drew national attention.
Free and Roe use their interviews with Coach Roy Johnson to provide the full context behind the story. Johnson’s openness becomes one of BS High‘s most interesting assets. He’s seemingly forthcoming about many parts of the story, though he gets caught in lies many times. Johnson’s storytelling is undeniably magnetic, but there’s a nefarious energy that’s hard to ignore. He may believe his own lies and twists on the truth, but Free and Roe never let them settle. Instead, they counter each moment of disbelief with the truth.
The real power of BS High comes from the former players. As the scheme at Bishop Sycamore comes into focus, it’s clear that thousands of dollars have been laid at the feet of unsuspecting young men. While one can argue their parents should have done more due diligence, Free and Roe remind the audience that football is seen as a way out of poverty. Despite the thousands of athletes who will never earn money playing professionally, families push their sons into the sport in the hope that they will hit the lottery.
The closest we see any Bishop Sycamore student to reaching that goal is Trillian Harris, and even his story ends in tragedy. The quarterback was recruited to play college ball, opening up the opportunity for Harris to attend Grambling. Even more frustrating, Harris proved talented enough to overcome a bad program and bad coaching and still almost made the college ranks. Imagine what was possible with a legitimate coach, not one willing to use a Ponzi scheme to fuel his ego.
BS High gets back to the simple truth. Sports at any level are seen as ways to reap in money. With parents looking to support their children, they will risk their financial futures in the pursuit of the dream. Free and Roe make BS High a human story – one about the lengths others will go to enrich themselves off the physical danger young men will put themselves through.