Column: The bar where women’s sports come to play

Jenny Nguyen, owner of The Sports Bra, a bar and restaurant dedicated to women's sports, poses for a photo on Monday, Feb. 22, 2022. (Vickie Connor/The Oregonian via AP)

Jenny Nguyen, proprietor of The Sports Bra, a bar and cafe dedicated to women’s sporting activities, poses for a image on Monday, Feb. 22, 2022. (Vickie Connor/The Oregonian through AP)


Jenny Nguyen and about a dozen of her close friends needed to watch the NCAA women’s basketball championship match, which didn’t seem far too considerably to question at a athletics bar with 32 televisions.

“None of them experienced that video game on,” Nguyen recalled, “which is stunning to me.”

No problem. A server agreed to swap one of the TVs to the big video game. Granted, it was the smallest screen in the area, around in a corner, the place they didn’t even bother to change up the seem.

Nguyen was just happy to get a glimpse of one particular of the excellent video games in NCAA Tournament historical past: Notre Dame rallying to defeat Mississippi State on a 3-pointer with a tenth of a second remaining.

“I bear in mind jumping up and down,” she said, “and then searching around the cafe and noticing we ended up the only types looking at this recreation.”

On the way out, a single of Nguyen’s good friends manufactured an even more poignant observation.

“It would have been so a great deal improved if the seem was on,” she claimed.

Then and there, a innovative strategy was born.

Welcome to The Sporting activities Bra.

From that epiphany 4 decades in the past, Nguyen understood her aspiration to launch a bar devoted entirely to women’s sports.

It opened on April 1 in Portland, Oregon, in which any converse of The Sporting activities Bra becoming nothing at all more than a joke (granted, its double- entendre mantra is “We Aid Women’s Sports” ) was speedily erased by the large crowds that lined up exterior the door every single day.

“One detail I desired to be intentional about with The Sports Bra is we’re not reinventing the wheel as significantly as sports bars go,” Nguyen claimed. “They’ve been all around for many years. There’s a way about them which is pretty endearing and has that comfy feeling.”

Of training course, this isn’t just any other sporting activities bar.

That is evident from much additional what is actually showing on the five TVs, which are solely devoted to women’s (and a little bit of coed) sporting activities.

The walls are lined with memorabilia focused to woman athletes and teams. The drink and food stuff menus are mainly gleaned from women-owned organizations, brewers and distilleries. The two restrooms are gender neutral. Nguyen tends to make certain to give gluten-cost-free, vegetarian and vegan alternatives, all with a objective of becoming as inclusive to her friends as possible.

That is not to say one particular won’t come across some of the far more common sports bar offerings.

“We have burgers and nachos and tater tots,” Nguyen pointed out.

Robin DiPietro, a faculty professor at the University of South Carolina, stopped in at The Sporting activities Bra for the very first time this week although on a West Coast getaway.

“I imagine each individual city requires a women’s sporting activities bar,” DiPietro said. “I hope it gets a trend. We don’t have adequate places where we can go watch women’s athletics.”

As the 50th anniversary of Title IX was commemorated this week, it was only purely natural that substantially of consideration was on key developments made by ladies athletes in the wake of the landmark laws, countered by how a great deal further they have to go to attain legitimate equality with their male counterparts.

But let us not forget about smaller gestures that enable progress the bring about.

A single bar focused to women’s sports may perhaps not audio like substantially, nonetheless it could be the catalyst for some thing far larger. Nguyen is keenly informed that her mission goes beyond good meals, tasty drinks and earning guaranteed the TVs are turned to the WNBA or the NCAA softball championship or a soccer match that includes the hometown Portland Thorns.

The communal nature of fandom has generally been a enormous factor in the achievement of men’s athletics. You can find no cause it should not be that way for the online games women of all ages enjoy.

“When I first conceived of The Athletics Bra, when I 1st started out to do it, I experienced no notion it would be what it is,” Nguyen mentioned. “But now I’m observing it as section of the motion, a domino in a wave of dominos.

“It’s very good small business to make investments in gals,” she additional. “It truly is just a make any difference of time just before individuals latch onto that and see that when a neighborhood is shifting ahead towards fairness, everyone wins. Not just gals. Equality is good for everybody.”

Nguyen, a very first-technology American whose mothers and fathers emigrated to Portland all through the Vietnam War, is especially passionate about basketball. She took up the sport all-around the age of 5 and was established to play at a neighborhood faculty when she blew out a knee a 7 days prior to her 1st sport.

That was also around the time she came out as a lesbian, so she was dealing with a lot of conflicting thoughts. Lonely and depressed, Nguyen determined for an totally fresh start out at Western Washington College.

It was there she learned a passion as good as basketball.

“I understood I experienced been fully spoiled by my mom’s cooking,” Nguyen remembered. “When I received to higher education, I uncovered it fairly difficult to get good meals. That is when I began cooking.”

She received the exact sensation in a kitchen that she observed on a basketball courtroom. A calmness. A peace.

Soon after graduating from Western Washington, she enrolled in culinary college and introduced her everyday living in a new course.

Then, throughout the tumultuous summer of 2020, when the state was dealing with a devastating pandemic and a racial awakening, Nguyen resolved she experienced to do anything to make the entire world a better put. She realized it really should contain cooking. Her girlfriend reminded her of their strategy for The Sports activities Bra.

Irrespective of the obvious struggles in launching a new business enterprise — in particular in an sector that took a large blow from COVID-19 — Nguyen wrote up a company prepare, cleaned out her financial savings account and borrowed some dollars from family members and mates.

She still did not have adequate to get a sports activities bar off the floor, so she launched a fundraising exertion on Kickstarter. She established a intention of $48,000. Within 30 days, she experienced elevated some $105,000.

Enterprise has been brisk considering that The Athletics Bra opened, with Nguyen estimating around a quarter of the clientele is males.

“It turns out that when a person, any person, is observing sports, they truthfully will not treatment who is taking part in,” she said. “They just love sports activities, love to look at sports activities.”

The rousing good results of The Sports Bra has persuaded Nguyen that her idea can get the job done in other cities. When she wrote up her very first company strategy, she outlined franchising and approximated that perhaps a dozen other metropolitan areas would assistance a women’s sporting activities bar.

Now, she thinks that concentrate on was much too minimal. On Thursday’s 50th anniversary of Title IX, she issued the #channelchangechallenge on Instagram, encouraging folks to question their favourite sporting activities bar to adjust one Television set once a day to a women’s sports occasion.

“If one bar improvements a channel,” she claimed, “and two women or two gentlemen or whoever displays up to view, which is a acquire for most people.”


Paul Newberry is a national sporting activities columnist for The Linked Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at) or at


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