The Netflix docuseries following the Navarro College cheerleading team in Texas has received effusive praise. Reese Witherspoon was so inspired by Coach Monica Aldama and the show that she cried "big baby tears" and cried again. NBC News hailed Aldama as the kind of decision maker America needs right now. "Fans got one thing right: Cheer’s hardworking, eager-to-please athletes are indeed transcendent," says Amanda Mull. "But Cheer doesn’t let their victories shine. Instead, the series tells one of the oldest, darkest stories in American sports—of athletes with no pay and little support breaking their bodies again and again, all for the greater glory of an authority figure they dare not question." As Mull notes, Navarro College is a junior college doing "incredible things with spare resources," which makes "Aldama’s run of championships even more impressive, but these shortfalls also make her demands more dangerous. Medical and training staff are not just a competitive advantage—they can provide a check against a coach’s power, and their expertise can help keep athletes safe when they’re asked to push past the normal capabilities of the human body." Mull also notes a fairly recent scandal that the Netflix series ignores: A male cheerleader sued the school in 2018 alleging that a volunteer cheer coach drugged and raped him. Mull adds: "Much of the praise for the version of Aldama (who, it’s important to note, is subject to the same whims of editing and narrative-creation as anyone else who participates in a documentary or reality show) viewers see in Cheer centers on the fact that she’s a woman at the top of her field who employs the same hard-driving tactics and take-no-prisoners attitude that men have long used to get ahead. It’s true that she is hardly singular in the way she interacts with her college students, but in refusing to cast a critical eye at the way this approach to power has always endangered athletes, the docuseries bows out of a crucial component of Navarro’s story, and of the story of sports in America. It also leaves audiences open to celebrate Aldama as a girl-boss hero, ignoring the way that designation has frequently been used to praise leaders who abuse their underlings and eventually fail at their jobs because of it. Maybe it shouldn’t have surprised me that so many people watched Cheer and judged Aldama an inspirational American leader instead of a manipulative, reckless glory-hound. America imagines sports at every level as a conduit for spreading cultural beliefs about discipline and order, which someone must enforce."