Since its release, Netflix docuseries Cheer has captivated audiences, from those obsessed with cheerleading to those who don't even know what a basket is.
A first watch of the six-parter throws up many questions: how come no one vomits up there? Where does Monica get her nails done? Will they continue to scream the Serenity Prayer, call-and-response style, in public spaces? And why, for crying out loud, was no one there to catch Sherbs?
But there is one query that's really been keeping us up at night, and it's this: what on Earth is a 'FIOFMU'?
We need to get to the bottom of the acronym that Navarro star flyer Gabi Butler loves so much. Is it part of a secret cheer language, which you only learn the true meaning of 'on mat'? Or is there a simple explanation for the hard-to-say abbreviation?
The Navarro team is a logical start to the investigation – surely they have the answer, right? Well, not really. Turns out their lips are sealed tighter than Morgan's abs. Despite the fact that the letters are splashed across all their Instagram intros and is an unceasing feature in their Insta captions, none of them seem willing to give up the meaning to us ordinary folk.
It's something that the cheerleaders keep private between themselves. Kayla Culver, who in her Twitter picture wears a Navarro cheer uniform, told one curious fan who asked that "#FIOFMU is a coded message/motto, that you learn and earn throughout the year while on the team. Learning the meaning is entirely special and is only known by Navarro Cheerleaders and Navarro Cheer alumni."
#FIOFMU is a coded message/motto, that you learn and earn throughout the year while on the team. Learning the meaning is entirely special and is only known by Navarro Cheerleaders and Navarro Cheer alumni🙂 https://t.co/BrekKGUZE9— Kayla Culver (@kayculv) January 11, 2020
So the first rule of cheer is you do not talk about FIOFMU. And the second rule of cheer is, well you know how that goes. (The third rule of cheer seems to be that hair poufs must be twice as big as your forehead, but that's a debate for another day.)
Apparently, this level of secrecy is a universal code of conduct: one Reddit user said that a cheerleader's abbreviations are "sacred" and "only team members will know what it stands for".
What's certainly clear is that FIOFMU is something to be earned, not just given. Former Navarro cheerleader Lindsey Snyder said in an interview that her most memorable cheer moment was "When I earned my letters (FIOFMU)". Another Navarro alum, Sarah Sweet, said that even the team's own cheerleaders don't find out what the abbreviation means "until the very very end of your year".
So, in terms of spilling the proverbial cheer beans, Navarro is an impenetrable fortress. But we might have one saving grace (kind of): on an Urban Dictionary page that has now been deleted – which is all a bit coincidental, if you ask us – it was stated that the acronym was short for "Fight It Out, F**k 'Em Up."
That makes sense – if you've watched the show you'll know that Navarro and co can't resist a catchy, shout-out-loud motto, and that phrase just seems ripe for the picking. For Twitter fans/internet sleuths, this is the most popular explanation, anyway.
And that's the closest we're going to get. Even the darkest recesses of the internet seem to take cheer secrets to the grave.
But as one watcher argued, we dedicated six hours to this series: we deserve to know the meaning of FIOFMU. We all held hands and prayed for Navarro to win Daytona. We all ignored the bit where someone said Tex Mex was better than real Mexican. We all went and got square-tip french mani acrylics like Monica (right…?).
Sure, we might not be able to land both our feet neatly in the palm of La'Darius's hand, but surely we have certainly earned the right to find out what FIOFMU means, have we not?
Unfortunately, we can theorise all we like about the meaning, but there's only one way to get it for sure. So, let's all start stretching out those hammies, shall we?
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