Women's Sport: Cheer, the Netflix documentary showing the athletic side of cheerleading

Netflix Cheer

If you haven't seen Cheer, Netflix's latest hit docuseries, pop it on ASAP. It has taken over the internet as the streaming service's current must-watch and it documents America's best competitive cheerleading team, Navarro, while they prepare for Daytona - the National Cheerleading Association's championship.

The team has won 14 out of the previous 20 championships and the documentary exposes how the sport is about so much more than being on the sidelines supporting another team.  

Outside of the cheerleading community, however, the sport that is still viewed stereotypically. Little is known about the more competitive and dramatic side of competitive cheerleading.

The documentary shows the Navarro girls and boys (yes, outside of Hollywood movies and in the real world cheer is a mixed sport) tumbling and leaping and being thrown about. They perform athletic feats that are much more hair-raising and challenging than anything seen in the sports that they often cheer for.

These female cheerleaders are strong and powerful sportswomen. The Navarro team are elite athletes. They don't wave pompoms every day, they stunt and risk injuries and even continue training with injuries.

In Cheer, it is the girls who perform the most terrifying of the stunts. It is the girls who are thrown about in the air. The boys are athletic, strong, incredible athletes in their own right too, but it is the girls who are the ones put in the most dangerous scenarios. The documentary is the latest instance of female athletes finally being given the platform they deserve.

The documentary isn't just about cheerleading, though. It goes deeper. It shows how the sport is always about so much more than just the activity itself. Through cheerleading, we discover how these young students have found stability, a family, an escape, a purpose. 

Netflix Cheer

For one cheerleader, Morgan, the sport and team is a family where she was left to fend for herself at points growing up. For another, Jerry, it's a tribute to his now-deceased mother, something for him to channel his grief into. Everyone on the team has a story about how it is more than just sport. 

They might have started for the stunts and the pyramids, but they've stayed and committed for other reasons. Both the boys and girls on the team are an inspiration, showing what can be achieved both physically and emotionally when you fall in love with and dedicate yourself to a sport.  

Cheer gives a sport that's perpetually been on the sidelines its day in the sun, it shows female athletes at their peak and it celebrates the transformative nature of the sport. The more stories like this we tell, the more sport will open up for everyone and the more we can celebrate women's strength. 

Watch when GiveMeSport Women's editor Benny Bonsu met the LA Rams cheerleading team

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