Changing the Game: A transformative documentary  

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Documentaries may be the most interesting form of filmmaking. They explore topics and people most Hollywood films could only imagine. With “Changing The Game,” director Michael Barnett follows the lives of three transgender high school athletes.  

The first teen mentioned was Mack Beggs, a male wrestler in Texas who was assigned female at birth, who is only allowed to wrestle with girls due to Texas law. The law mandates that students participate in sports based on their assigned gender at birth. The second teen mentioned was Sarah Huckman, a New Hampshire skier trying to help pass a bill in New Hampshire that would give protections to trasngender individuals. The final teen mentioned was Andraya Yearwood, a Connecticut high school track runner who has faced backlash since she was assigned male at birth and some parents see it as an “unfair advantage.” 

All of these teens have interesting backgrounds and a toughness that most people could only dream of. Beggs, for example, not only faced challenging opponents in the wrestling ring, but he also dealt with hateful comments from adults on social media. Whenever the struggles of the athletes were displayed, the pain felt chilling. It was almost as if you were right by one of them whenever they faced hardship. Yet students like Beggs are able to take those comments and turn them into victories in competition.  

To accompany such a gripping narrative, the score composed by Tyler Strickland fits perfectly with the feelings of hope and fear the film presents. It’s at times uplifting and somber, but never dull. The usage of news clips and soundbites throughout the film set a stark reminder that not everyone is on board with transgender athletes competing in certain athletic events. The disrespect illustrated in those news clips toward transgender athletes was unbelievable. The fact that transgender athletes are treated differently from cisgender athletes in competition is a sign that major change is needed.  

The cinematography feels natural without coming off as pretentious. For an independent documentary, all of the shots look professional. The editing has a contemporary YouTube feel to it, which is not an insult. It feels fresh and up-to-date with the younger generation and it was never boring at any point. 

When looking back at “Changing The Game,” a couple of questions came to mind. How many transgender athletes are participating in high school athletics and why are there not more documentaries made about trans-athletes? The stories of Beggs, Huckman and Yearwood were fascinating and a great insight into the lives of transgender athletes. Their stories should be experienced by everyone who is interested in sports, LGBTQ+ issues or both. One of the best documentaries of the year, “Changing the Game” is transformative film that will be a landmark in documentary filmmaking.  

Rating: 4.75/5 

Thumbnail photo courtesy of @changinggamedoc Instagram.


Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at ian.ward@uconn.edu

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