Here’s to the great news we stumbled upon lately, the launch of a sports bar dedicated to women’s sports ‘The Sports Bra‘ in Oregon, US. Our planet now has at least one such sports bar devoted to women’s games only.
The opening of The Sports Bra was on Friday, April 1st, at 11 AM with a bustling queue that filled the sidewalk and the members of the Pride Cheerleading Association shaking pompoms, dozens of women, fans, athletes, and some men who were waiting long to grab a chair.
“I actually got emotional and cried when I walked in,” said Leslie Melin, who sat at the bar with a signature cocktail. “I’m so proud to be here.”
Statistics claim that 40% of all sports participants are women, yet women’s sports receive only around 4% of all sports media coverage. In order to pave toward fixing the gender imbalance in the sports domain, Jenny Nguyen founded The Sports Bra.
According to Nguyen, the concept of The Sports Bar triggered her mind four years ago when she watched a killer NCAA women’s championship at a local bar with a few friends, but on mute.
And she made an off-the-cuff remark:
“You know, the only time we’re ever going to be able to watch a women’s game, with the sound on and all the fanfare, is if we had our own space.”
From then Nguyen got fired with the zeal to launch a sports bar completely devoted to women’s sports and games.
Speaking of which, Nguyen in a statement said,
“Our approach is to take that 4% that is showing and put it on blast,”
Jamie Orr, one of the hundreds of people who raised over $100,000 on The Sports Bra Kickstarter campaign – was billed as the first customer of the bar.
“To have a sports bar where you’re not going to have to fight to get the back TV turned on to a women’s game, it’s just great,” said Orr
“Hardly anyone knows the history of women’s football,” shared Leah Hinkle, general manager of the Oregon Ravens, a team of the Women’s National Football Conference, whose games will be streamed at The Sports Bra.
“But equity isn’t just about divvying up screen time,” added Hinkle. “Equity is about having what you need to succeed. Women’s sports need a movement and The Sports Bra is making a statement.”
The Sports Bra exhibits five television screens mounted on walls, framed jerseys, and souvenirs from a clutch of women’s teams.
The Sports Bra has partnered with ESPN3 and Just Women’s Sports media company to stream a variety of programs, games, and original content. And during times when there are no women’s sports to broadcast or stream, the bar plans to turn the TVs off, to highlight the lack of coverage.
Along these lines, Jenny Nguyen said,
“We use that weakness as a talking point to draw attention to it,”
“I would love to play 24-7 women’s sports in here, but it’s just not possible.” Nguyen added
The opening weekend offered a host of matches from pro golf to college softball. The bar also showed two games of the NCAA’s March Madness, the first since Sedona Prince’s viral TikTok video highlighted shocking inequality between men’s and women’s weights rooms, leading to an equity review and a host of changes at the college basketball tournament.
Speaking of the concept of The Sports Bra, Sivan Nadler, head of strategy at Just Women’s Sports, in a statement said,
“There is a lot of language and marketing linked to empowerment and social good around women’s sports,”
“And both of those things are important, but there’s not enough about the fact that these women are ballers. We want to see them play.” Nadler added
It took four years for Nguyen to ideate and launch The Sports Bra but throughout this period, The Sports Bra remained a running joke among her friends. They were frustrated with the underrepresentation of women’s sports and kept their morale high and thoughts ignited with their imagination and Nguyen’s vision for The Sports Bra. A playlist of games and menu ideas always remained in the back of the heads of Nguyen and her friends.
Nguyen faced a period of personal frustration marked by the Covid-19 pandemic and George Floyd’s murder, but her girlfriend suggested she turn her dream of The Sports Bra into a reality.
It was a risk, as droves of bars and restaurants were shuttered during the lockdown. Rejected by the banks, Nguyen found solace in raising Kickstarter pledges and seed funding from family and friends.
It is important to note that Nguyen’s emotional journey of founding The Sports Bra has a lot to do with her past career as an athlete and her interest in cooking.
Nguyen’s career as an athlete ended abruptly after she ruptured her ACL while playing college basketball. From then, she turned to cooking and for 15 years she worked her way up through Portland’s renowned culinary scene.
The Sports Bra menu contains traditional pub grub with vegan-friendly options that uplift Nguyen’s Vietnamese heritage, including her mother’s famous clay-pot pork ribs and her aunt’s glazed chicken wings.
Besides supporting women’s sports, The Sports Bar sources beef, beverages and produce from women-owned companies only – supporting businesses owned by women. Even its cocktails give a wink to women’s sports, including a gin drink called “Triple Axel” – a salute to Portland’s own Tonya Harding.
The mission of The Sports Bar is a lot more than simply opening up a bar, but is to build huge visibility around women’s sports. According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, by the time a girl reaches 14 years of age, she’s twice as likely to drop out of sports compared with a boy. And if she’s LGBTQ+ or a person of color, the dropout rates double.
This is why The Sports Bra also welcomes minors in the hope to inspire them.
Jenny Nguyen says that there might be a potential for franchise and expansion for The Sports Bra in the coming years. Speaking of which, Nguyen in a press statement shared,
“I think that by giving women’s sports fans a physical location to celebrate, we can show the general public and mainstream media that there’s huge potential for growth and investment in women’s sports.”