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Documentary to premiere on HBO chronicling Bishop Sycamore football scandal

Roy Johnson (right), the football coach and the director of Columbus online charter school Bishop Sycamore, looks on from the sidelines during the third quarter of a nationally televised game on ESPN Sunday, August 29, 2021 against powerhouse IMG Academy out of Florida at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. Bishop Sycamore lost the game 58-0.
ESPN
Roy Johnson (right), the football coach and the director of Columbus online charter school Bishop Sycamore, looks on from the sidelines during the third quarter of a nationally televised game on ESPN Sunday, August 29, 2021 against powerhouse IMG Academy out of Florida at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. Bishop Sycamore lost the game 58-0.

A new documentary focused on a fake Columbus high school and their football team's blowout loss on national television premieres Wednesday on HBO.

"BS High," directed by Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe, tells the story of Bishop Sycamore High School and the Centurions football team that became embroiled in controversy following a blowout 58-0 loss against premiere Florida school IMG Academy in 2021.

The game was broadcast on ESPN, which led viewers, reporters and the makers of the film to question and uncover the reality of the school.

The film features over 30 hours of interviews with disgraced former head coach Roy Johnson, who was fired in the wake of the scandal.

The school was ruled as a scam after facing lawsuits and an investigation by the Ohio Department of Education.

"Roy is a documentarian's dream. He has no filter. He's an incredible storyteller. He's a man of profoundly dubious morality. And he has sort of no shame," Roe said.

"The first thing he said to us when he sat down in the chair before we'd even begun the interview, he said, 'Do I look like a con man or do I look like a regular, normal person?' And at that point, we knew we've got somebody interesting here."

The filmmakers contend Johnson preyed on the "big dreams" of his players, dashing their hopes for football glory.

"You know, there were other places that these kids could have gone and played football had they landed in front of the right coach who could have put them in a position to go to a school that matched their skill set," Free said.

"They lost that opportunity and they lost a lot of the the things that go along with being young men. And it was really, really unfortunate," he said.

"BS High," which premiered earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival, debuts Wednesday at 9 p.m. on HBO and the network's streaming service, Max.

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.