Leistikow: An experiment to cut through the social-media clutter, talk Hawkeyes

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

Editors note to all Hawkeyes fans: Thanks for the overwhelming interest in our group text experiment. Due to popularity, we maxed out our number of testers for the group chat in a matter of hours. But stay tuned — after this 90-day test, we’ll explore ways to bring it to any fan who wants it!


Hey, Hawkeye fans. There’s a cool way we can team up as football season approaches.

One of the parts I love most about my job is the realization that something I wrote makes a positive impact on someone’s day. Yeah, it’s gratifying to break news once in a while. And yeah, it’s important as a columnist to point out when things don’t add up — like Noah Fant's snap count. (OK, fine, it’s time to let that one go.)

But my favorite part is when there’s a feeling of give and take between me and you — that I write something (or say some words on the radio) that helps your understanding and enjoyment of Hawkeye sports.

One of the LEAST favorite parts of my job is seeing the crummy side of social media on a daily basis. You know what I’m talking about. It can be ugly and annoying. Sports is supposed to be fun … right? That’s what I told my 9-year-old son as I dropped him off at a basketball camp the other day.

Chad Leistikow

Anyway, what if there was a different way to reach you all … and you could reach me as if you were texting your Hawkeye buddies … and we could collectively cut through the social-media junk?

I’m pretty excited about something that my organization, USA TODAY Sports, is trying. Over the next 90 days, we’re testing group text chats between me and some of our most engaged Hawkeye fans and readers.

How will it work? There's some handy company language below to answer the basics.

But the overall gist is this: There were only a few of us in the entire company selected to lead this venture. So this is a very neat and, yes, very FREE opportunity for us to connect. I’ll share with you what I’m working on. I might ask you what you want to know. You can ask me questions that maybe you were hesitant to post on social media.

I can't 100% promise how it's going to unfold. That's why this is a test. But I can promise it'll center around Hawkeye sports. Once we hit a groove together, I’ll probably be inclined to share some inside info, too. I hope a few of you will give it a try.

Now, to your questions ...

Is this really free? What’s the catch?

No catch — it's a test, and we're trying to gauge interest in whether this could be a premium way to support our work. We’re hoping readers like you will like this service enough to offer another way to back quality local news and sports information. The only thing we ask in exchange: Fill out a few surveys about the test over the next few months so we know if you like what we're doing and what would make it better.

One of the best views in college football, from inside Kinnick Stadium.

Will other people see my number?

No. When you respond to the group text thread, it just goes to me. I might respond to you individually, or I may quote part of your message back to the group thread, but that’ll come from my number, not yours.

Nobody else on the group chat will ever see your contact information.

What are you going to do with my number?

Junk texts are the absolute worst, and tricking people into sharing phone numbers is a terrible business model. It's simple: We’ll never give or sell your number to a third party. We won't abuse it internally. When you opt in, you’ll only get a couple messages from us per day around this group-chat test. You can opt out at any time. At the end of this test, we'll send you one last follow-up note to let you know if we're moving forward with it. No ongoing texts, no purchases, no credit cards needed.