The Sports Bra opened on April 1, 2022 featuring just women’s sports. This grand opening signified the creation of the first known bar to show only female athletes on television, while almost every other sports bar typically largely features men. Founder Jenny Nguyen started the bar “as just a gathering place for the community to come and support, empower and promote women and girls in sports.”
Nguyen wrote her business plan in July of last year. “I was planning on it taking at least a year to two years to develop and make into a reality. But things progressed really quickly and it really felt like everything that needed to line up, just happened to line up and wham bam, thank you ma’am we opened in less than 9 months!” Nguyen said.
Just one month after the opening, The Sports Bra has been featured on The Guardian, Good Morning America, TODAY, and The Washington Post, which shows the demand of this concept and the lack of bars for women’s sports only.
According to the University of Minnesota, only four percent of athletes on television are women, and of those four percent, many are portrayed in sexual contexts or poses. The broadcasting service ESPN Plus offers 8,000 games a week on their streaming service, but only four of those games are women’s sports, said Nguyen on the podcast “Burn It All Down.” This is what makes a female-only sports bar so groundbreaking.
The Sports Bra features women’s sports of all kinds, from the Portland Thorns to college lacrosse: “…if it’s on TV, we will be showing it,” the Sports Bra says on its website.
Many women find the traditional sports bar environment unsafe for a multitude of reasons. Lack of representation on television and a majority male space can all feel unwelcoming for women, especially women attending alone.
Laura Recker, a Portland Public Schools teacher, attended the soft opening of The Sports Bra on March 26 and said, “…being at the [Sports] Bra blew me away.” Her experience at the Sports Bra was a special one. “Being a female athlete myself I felt acknowledged and seen,” Recker adds. “It really felt like a bar I could totally be myself in; that is not something I have felt before or thought that I could feel at a bar.”
The Sports Bra considers itself family friendly, to give younger female athletes exposure to women’s sports in a dine-in, welcoming environment. The bar seating area is 21 and over and closes at 11 p.m., but minors are allowed in the main dining area until 10 p.m. This early closing time reflects the type of crowd the bar is recruiting, people who want to stop by and watch a women’s sports game, as most games end by 10:30 p.m. Additionally, they offer tasty food and non-alcoholic drinks for everyone to enjoy.
The Sports Bra offers women-owned distillery spirits, exemplifying their wish to uplift and promote women. Their house-wines are by Sarah Cabot, a professional women’s football player. Also, their menu includes vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian options, not typically seen in traditional bar menus.
“Grannies G&T” is a “minor-friendly” drink which features Monday zero gin, cranberry juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and tonic water. Additionally, one drink called “Hibwhiskus Tea” has chilled hibiscus tea, simple syrup, zero-proof Lyre whiskey, and lemon juice.
When you enter The Sports Bra, the art and memorabilia encapsulate the bar’s message and make for an exciting, busy atmosphere. “…There was the Brandi Chastain sports bra moment on a tapestry, a portrait of Serena Williams, Thorns flags, [and] this amazing portrait behind the bar of Sue Bird and a teammate,” Recker said.
Although making a bar fully dedicated to women’s sports seems like an obvious concept, the impact this bar has had on women already is rare.
“If we can somehow amplify the voices of those who are often overlooked or unheard, we hope that their stories truly speak for themselves and that from representation and accessibility, more people will follow and join the community of support,” says Nguyen.
Nguyen concludes, “I hope…that more and more places like us pop up everywhere because it really isn’t just wanted, it’s needed.”