BS High (2023). Greed and Exploitation in American High School Football.

Back in 2021, the World was stunned when ESPN televised a football game between IMG Academy and the aptly named BS High (for Bishop Sycamore, but the initials tell you all you need to know). The results were so lopsided (58-0) that even the commentators were flabbergasted.

It turns out that BS High was not a school at all but a front for a football training camp where a bunch of slightly older (late teens and into the early twenties) disadvantaged and mostly African-American young men were put through their paces by “coach” Roy Johnson. A charismatic crook and schemer, Johnson’s interview forms the centerpiece of Martin Desmond Roe and Trevon Free’s film with cutaways to the storyline and the various people he hoodwinked down the line (Johnson’s former colleagues John Branham and Andre Peterson, journalists, Andrew King and Bonami Jones, School Sports investigator Ben Ferree, and the former Bishop Sycamore players appear in the film). The only school the players saw was one afternoon walk around a library. Johnson even put them up in hotels that were never paid for, and when the team was eventually thrown out, the eviction notices were under the players’ names as they began their adult lives with credit scores that were massively in the red!


Johnson gradually unveils himself as a sociopath in the same way that Elizabeth “Theranos” Holmes did in the Alex Gibney documentary “The Inventor” and as played by Amanda Seyfried in“The Dropout.” However, Johnson’s genius – if you can call it that – was that he used a system that was already stinking and took it to its, if you will, natural conclusion: American high school and college football being one big moneymaking racket that massively exploits the young men on whose backs the whole system rests. It is fitting that the film’s producer is none other than Adam McKay, who directed the superb 2015 feature film “The Big Short” in which – with tongue often firmly buried in cheek – he took us down memory lane to the days leading up to the 2008 Wall Street Crash.

Whether or not you are an American football fan, “BS High” is essential viewing. This is about a man who played an already corrupt system and ruined young lives in the process. And, it turns out that there are no laws against starting a fake school either in Ohio, where the story takes place, or in any other state in the Union.


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