5 Ways Snapchat & Instagram Stories Changed Pro Sports

Within the past year-plus, the rise of Snapchat and Instagram Stories has changed the sports world for the better in many ways for fans.

As a writer for For The Win, a USA TODAY Sports property, I've gotten to cover all the new social media happenings in pro sports (from Cavaliers vet Richard Jefferson Snapchatting his way to the 2016 championship to how NBA players reacted when IG Stories first became a thing). It has been a lot of fun, to say the least.

Here are the changes I've noticed (and if you're wondering why this is so NBA-heavy, it's because NBA players are the most active on social media):

1. YOU—the fan—can break news

If you happened to be checking Snapchat or Instagram at the right time, you could've been the first one to see that Snap Serena Williams accidentally posted revealing she was pregnant or the Snap Story of NBA player Hassan Whiteside announcing that he was re-signing with the Miami Heat. If you saw something like either of those and were the first one to tweet about it, your tweet could easily be the one that goes viral and gets picked up by sites like ESPN.

Nowadays, you don't have to be a reporter to break news if that news breaks on social media, and you can do it from your couch.

2. Athletes can go straight to the fans—and fast

If Kyrie Irving wants to clarify comments he made about gold medals or if Lolo Jones wants to tell a funny story about how she tried to get Michael Phelps' number, they can do so whenever they want. Neither had to wait for a reporter to ask them about what they wanted to talk about.

I'm not saying that journalists aren't needed anymore. Journalists can provide context and a more objective view that athletes themselves can't. But, in some cases, all that's needed is a few Snaps, and it's awesome that fans can have access to it instantly.

3. Athletes can give fans a behind-the-scenes look at their lives…

The best example of this is Richard Jefferson in last year's NBA playoffs. The veteran Cavaliers player Snapped everything from how LeBron James actually drives a Kia to the scene in the locker room after they won the championship. You're not gonna get a much better behind-the-scenes look than this:

4. ...But they have to be extra careful

As the USA men's basketball team was preparing for the Rio Olympics last summer, the Warriors' Draymond Green accidentally posted a dick pic on his Snapchat Story. He tried to tell everyone he was hacked, but then he eventually owned up to it and said he pushed the wrong button.

Serena Williams experienced the same mishap (although hers wasn't nearly as bad) when she accidentally shared the news of her pregnancy on her Snapchat.

Both of those cases show how careful athletes have to be. One wrong tap can cause a whole lot of trouble, since fans can screenshot whatever’s shared within seconds.

5. It's a new way for teams to tell their own stories

Pro sports teams can now use Snapchat and Instagram Stories as new ways to show off their creativity. The Chicago Bulls have been the only team to really take full advantage and push the envelope, but I expect more to do the same.

An example of the Bulls giving fans amazing content via Snapchat is this short film they produced shortly after the Beauty and the Beast movie released in theaters in March. They called it "Beauty and the Bull," and it featured one of their players, Robin Lopez, as well as the team mascot, Benny the Bull.

If you'd like to see more of what pro athletes are doing on Snapchat and Instagram Stories, check out my weekly roundups that publish every Friday.