Monday, January 30, 2023

Was it a real school that played football on ESPN?

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Did you watch the GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff Sunday, in which national powerhouse IMG Academy clobbered Bishop Sycamore from Ohio?

IMG at St Frances Acad., Maryland (Maryland GovPics/Flickr Creative Commons)

The final score was 58-0, which immediately raised concerns about how Bishop Sycamore (BS for short) landed a nationally televised football game against Florida’s IMG, which has been very near the top of national rankings for several years.

One contributing factor may be that BS played a game on Friday, just two days before the Sunday match-up.

Playing football games with that little rest is almost unheard of at any level.

But that’s not why, although it does show disregard for the health and safety of student-athletes.

It turns out, BS claims to be an online-only school in the Columbus School District.

Being an online-only school doesn’t disqualify a school from football competition, but some people aren’t quite sure it’s a real school.

Its official address is 3599 Chiller Lane, Columbus, which, according to NBC News, is the address of Resolute Athletic Complex, an indoor training facility shared by many organizations. NBC News reported that it doesn’t seem to be used as a school.

Ohio Gov Mike DeWine issued a statement related to BS:

Like many Ohioans, I am concerned by the recent reports and questions raised about Bishop Sycamore. While this weekend’s football game brought concerns about the health and safety of players, it also raised red flags about the school’s operations. Schools like Bishop Sycamore have an obligation under Ohio law to meet certain minimum standards. Whether Bishop Sycamore meets these standards is not clear. I have asked the Ohio Department of Education to conduct an investigation into Bishop Sycamore to ensure compliance with Ohio law and to ensure the school is providing the educational opportunities Ohio students deserve.

A game next weekend, scheduled between BS and another national powerhouse, Duncanville High School, from the Dallas-Fort Worth area has been cancelled, and Duncanville officials haven’t been able to get any replies from BS.

“Student safety is our top priority, and I can’t ask our student-athletes to take the field next week without knowing more about who they will be facing,” NBC quoted Duncanville ISD Athletic Director Dwight Weaver as saying in a statement Tuesday.

“Our school district’s core values speak to honesty, integrity, ethics and providing a safe environment for students. This situation calls into question many of those values, so we are canceling this game.”

The game between IMG and BS was arranged for ESPN by Paragon Marketing Group, which is based in Skokie, Illinois. The marketing company was told BS had several Division I recruits, a claim Paragon said they were generally unable to verify.

“They did not show up in our database, they did not show up in the databases of other recruiting services,” NBC News quoted ESPN commentator Anish Shroff as saying. “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.”

Paul Katulahttps://news.schoolsdo.org
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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