The Strange Story of How ESPN Got Played By a High School That Probably Doesn’t Exist.

Jake Myers 1
It’s common for ESPN to air interstate high school football matchups from some of the most prestigious programs all across America.  Sunday seemed to be just another one of those games, as one of the best teams in the country IMG Academy (FL) went up against Bishop Sycamore (OH). As the game went on it was clear that Bishop Sycamore was not what ESPN was promised.  As IMG Academy scored again to make it 30-0 in the middle of the second quarter, the broadcast team started to explain the situation that bewildered everyone watching at home.

“You look at IMG and this is the most talented prep team in the country. Bishop Sycamore told us they had a number of Division I prospects on their roster, and to be frank, a lot of that, we could not verify. They did not show up in our database, they did not show up in the databases of other recruiting services. So, OK, that’s what you’re telling us, fine, that’s how we take it in. From what we’ve seen so far, this is not a fair fight, and there’s got to be a point where you’re worried about health and safety.

“I already am worried about it. I think this could potentially be dangerous given the circumstances and the mismatch that we have here. And quite honestly, Bishop Sycamore doesn’t have not only the front-line players, but they don’t have the depth in case something were to happen to their roster with a kid or two here throughout the remaining two quarters of this football game.”

 

Paragon Marketing Group was in charge of scheduling the game and went by the word of Bishop Sycamore’s representatives. What they weren’t aware of is that Bishop Sycamore lied to them just so they could get exposure on television. They made it seem like they were a new school that was similar in structure to IMG Academy.

For anyone who is unaware, IMG Academy is an athletics factory. It is a prep school that revolves around sports helping students prepare for the Collegiate level. IMG Academy has a campus and state-of-the-art facilities. They have over twenty alumni currently in the NFL. Bishop Sycamore clearly had no business sharing the field with them. IMG Academy coasted in the second half for a 58-0 victory, they could’ve scored 80 if they really wanted to.

To make matters worse. Sycamore played on Friday night against Sto-Rox High School out of Pennsylvania. So the players (some playing both ways) played two football games in 3 days. The second game was against one of the best programs in the country. That in itself is grounds for the firing of a coach, athletic director, and whoever helps run this “football program”. Many players for Bishop Sycamore went down with injuries but it is a miracle someone wasn’t seriously injured.

So, who is Bishop Sycamore? First, they are not affiliated with the Ohio High School Athletics Association. A quick Google search shows that they are in the second year of their football program going 0-6 last season with a 58-6 loss to IMG Academy at the end of the year. Their schedule is filled with numerous powerhouse football programs, like DeMatha (MD) and Duncanville(TX), giving them the 4th hardest schedule in the country according to Maxpreps. A more in-depth search uncovers that they claim to be an online charter school, that is trying to be athlete-centric (similar to IMG Academy) even though the only sport they play is football. What’s bizarre is that their site ( http://www.bishopsycamore.org/ ) has no trace of an online school or a board office.

It gets weirder. Other people on the internet started sharing stories about a player’s hudl account being fake, posting fake scholarship offers and used a fake idea for a 7v7 tryout. That means there is a player that is two years removed from high school playing on this team.

The address for the school is a duplex house, and the other is the Franklin University Library.

 

What the hell is going on here?! This is starting to sound more and more like the movie “Accepted” but instead of creating a fake college, it’s a high school football program. The silver lining (if you can call it that), is that this set off a major alarm for Paragon Marketing Group, where they will now take extra steps to validate the football programs they broadcast. Something they should have been doing from the start. There are countless red flags, but just doing a google search.

This brings me to my last point, there was never a Bishop Sycamore. Who/how did they even come up with that name? The more time goes by the sketchier Bishop Sycamore becomes. They have at least one player that is two years removed from high school, they lied about having Division 1 caliber players to get on a national broadcast, and no one can verify if actual schooling goes on at Bishop Sycamore. I’m sure this is not the last we will hear of this story. It sounds like a giant scam, probably put on by a recruiting agency, to get athletes exposed for a fee. How this even got past the people of Paragon and ESPN in the internet age is incredible. The people responsible for Bishop Sycamore are shady scam artists. With that being said this is going to make a great sports comedy movie.

 

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