Lancaster football player’s frustrated Twitter shot at Newsom steamrolls into national spotlight

Isaiah Navarro’s message on Twitter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom is clear. And angry.

“Zero offers, zero looks, zero commitments, zero time on campus, zero homecoming, zero prom, zero traditional graduation,” Navarro’s tweet read Wednesday morning. “What a wasted final year of school. Worked hard and dedicated for absolutely ZERO. Big shout out to Gavin Newsom! You got what you wanted.”

Navarro, an 18-year-old football player at Lancaster’s Paraclete High, expressed a sentiment shared by many of his student peers during a frustrating, pandemic-warped year for high school seniors — and millions of other young people.

Navarro’s post caught fire on social media — the original message was retweeted more than 11,000 times and liked more than 55,000 times — has snowballed into unexpected national media attention.

The tweet struck a particular chord with media, especially with more conservative venues that have taken aim at Newson in recent weeks. Navarro was interviewed live on Fox News today (Friday, Feb. 5). He’s been asked to be a guest on Newsmax, the John and Ken Show on KFI AM 640 radio and is scheduled to appear on CBS next week with Paraclete football coach Dean Herrington.

The timing of Navarro’s tweet connected with an eager audience on social media, with Newsom taking increasing heat in recent weeks. Jessica Levinson, a law professor and political commentator, said she can see why Navarro’s tweet is getting so much attention.

“(Navarro) hit a nerve,” said Levinson. “Newsom has united both left and right in his handling of the pandemic. This young man’s statements are so understandable — so many people have lost opportunity.”

Newsom has largely become the focal point for disappointment and confusion over the state’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, as California struggles through a deadly post-holiday surge and a sluggish rollout of vaccines. The governor’s approval ratings have plunged, fueled at least partially by a Republican-propelled recall effort that appears to be gaining steam.

“(Navarro) sees restaurants, malls and other things open…prioritized things over schools. This is one stark example of that,” Levinson added.

Navarro is one of many high school football players in California starved for an opportunity to prove he can play at the collegiate level, but can’t prove it traditionally through gameplay due to the state’s health guidelines, which has prohibited youth sports competition due to COVID-19 since March 2020.

“Isaiah is a three-year starter, gained 20 pounds this offseason and can definitely play college football,” Herrington said. “I think he’s representing thousands of high school kids right now in California that are frustrated to see more than 30 other states play football.”

Navarro — 6-foot-3, 250 pounds — was Paraclete High’s 2019 defensive lineman of the year and had a goal to be the team’s MVP this season. He followed up his original tweet with one more message:

“Honestly humbled by the retweets and positive comments. I know there are thousands in my shoes across this State. I do not want anything given to me, just a chance to show my value and be an asset. Gray shirt, red shirt, grass, turf or dirt. I will play anywhere, God willing.”

The New York Times reported on Thursday that the Public Policy Institute of California released a January statewide survey that found most Californians (52% of likely voters) approve of the job the governor is doing.

Newsom’s pre-pandemic approval rating was 49% among likely voters in January 2020. His approval rating from the Public Policy Institute of California poll is up slightly, but it is not near its peak in May, when 64% of likely voters said they approved of his performance as governor.

There is a noticeable difference between Democrats and Republicans in California who were polled. More than 70% of Democrats approved of Newsom’s job compared to 16% of Republicans.

The Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, in a poll released this week, found that 46% of registered voters approved of the Newsom’s performance. It showed a significant drop, from 64% of registered voters approving of the governor’s performance in the Berkeley Institute’s survey in September.

As of early February, high school football’s only hope of competing is for respective counties to attain the orange tier (moderate spread). A majority of California is in the purple tier (widespread), including Los Angeles County.

However, the National Federation of State High School Associations — better known as the NFHS — released new guidance this week with science from the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) showing COVID-19 transmission during high school during athletics, especially outside, remain relatively rare. The NFHS recommends youth sports not be predicated on the tier system.

“Knowledge of the virus that causes COVID-19 has evolved, we have increasingly recognized that transmission depends upon multiple factors that cannot be easily accounted for by simply dividing sports into three distinct categories of risk,” the SMAC committee noted.

The CIF has been aligning itself with the state’s health guidelines every step of the way since March, which has resulted in the football season’s postponement and eventually the cancelation of playoffs and championships to lend more time and opportunity for programs to play games until April 17.

As of Jan. 25, cross country (a purple tier sport) is the only high school sport allowed to compete.

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