There’s a sports bar opening later this year in Portland that hopes to eliminate the frustration of trying to find a fun and inclusive space to watch women’s sports.
You won’t have to ask the bartender to change the channel to watch women’s basketball, soccer, hockey, or figure skating at The Sports Bra when it opens this spring. According to owner Jenny Nguyen, it was a bar born out of necessity.
She explained to the Portland Eater she and her friends had grown tired of the lack of visibility and respect for women’s sports in male-dominated sports bars which featured men’s sports almost exclusively. First, you had to ask to change to the channel to watch women’s sports, then another bartender would inevitably change the channel back to men’s sports minutes later.
“The only way we’re going to watch a women’s game is if we open our own place,” she recalled saying.
The result is The Sports Bra which Nguyen said will play any women’s sports game on TV, satellite, or cable. And they’ve also partnered with Just Women’s Sports to secure digital content as well. They will also be an official viewing location for the Portland Thorns soccer team.
The Sports Bra will not just feature the best women athletes on their television, but also the creative efforts of women and women-owned businesses in the food and spirits industries on their menus. This women-centric philosophy came in part as a response to the social movements of recent years. Those movements caused Nguyen to consider the inequities in women’s sports and how she could make a difference.
“There were these social movements that really had me thinking about what I can do,” she said. “It was my partner who said, ‘Hey, you know how you’ve been joking about the Sports Bra for years? You should do it.’”
Food and activism weren’t always on her mind. As a child, she was focused on being active and playing sports.
“I climbed trees, rode bikes, despised dolls and dresses but most of all, loved to play basketball,” Nguyen revealed on the bar’s Kickstarter page. “That love shaped my whole identity and helped me to “fit in” all the way through high school.”
A torn ACL in her first year of college basketball turned her world “inside out” and ignited a previously unknown passion for cooking. After graduation, she enrolled in the Western Culinary Arts in Portland. She’s now combining her culinary skills with her love of women’s sports, along with a few favorite family recipes, to The Sports Bra.
You can learn more about The Sports Bra at their website www.thesportsbrapdx.com. You can also visit the bar’s Kickstarter page.