Portland’s The Sports Bra is the first bar in the world to exclusively air women’s sports

Apr 12, 2022, 12:11 PM
Owner Jenny Nguyen greets guests at The Sports Bra's grand opening (Photo courtesy of The Sports Br...
Owner Jenny Nguyen greets guests at The Sports Bra's grand opening (Photo courtesy of The Sports Bra)
(Photo courtesy of The Sports Bra)

This month, the world’s first and only sports bar only televising women’s sports opened in Portland, Oregon. For owner Jenny Nguyen, the name was obvious: she called it The Sports Bra.

“We opened Friday, April 1st, the day of Women’s Final Four, which was absolutely bonkers,” said Nguyen. “Like, I knew it was going to be busy but I had no idea just how busy. Then Saturday was a [Portland] Thorns [FC] game and then Sunday was the championship game. So talk about a big grand opening weekend!”

Nguyen is a former chef and lifelong basketball player.

“I like to joke that I put down the milk bottle and picked up a basketball,” said Nguyen.

A few years ago, Nguyen, and a group of her basketball-loving friends, went to a bar to watch the NCAA women’s finals championship game.

“There’s probably over 30 TV screens in this bar and none of the screens had the game on,” said Nguyen. “We’re like, ‘Hey, can you change it to the NCAA finals?’ And [the server’s] like, ‘Of course, no problem.’ It’s kind of off to the side of the bar on a smaller TV. It ended up being this fantastic game; a last second three pointer to win it. And so we kind of went nuts. And then, as we were leaving, I was like, ‘Man, that was such a great game!’ One of my friends was like, ‘Yeah, it would have been better if the sound had been on.’ I realized that we had just gotten so used to watching women’s sports in a limited capacity that I didn’t even notice. So I made this off-hand comment, ‘The only time we’ll be able to watch a women’s game in its full glory is if we have our own place.'”

And now that place exists. The Sports Bra will air whatever women’s sports content it can get its hands on, from the WNBA and soccer to softball, women’s college sports, and even some high school games.

“The majority of girls quit playing sports after they’re 15 to 17 years old,” said Nguyen. “A lot of the reasons why, when they were polled, is because they don’t see a future for themselves in it. When you’re growing up playing sports as a girl and all you’re seeing on TV, professionally or collegiately, is men’s sports… How are you going to think that you can keep doing that?”

Nguyen says she and her girlfriend have been thinking back to when they were young girls playing basketball.

“What it would have meant to us if our parents took us to a place where we could see women playing sports on TV,” said Nguyen. “Seeing people at the bar and restaurant cheering for women on TV. How impactful that would have been for us as girls. I was like, ‘That’s it, we’re going to make the place all ages.’ It’s important to give that representation and for families to be there, whether it’s boys or girls.”

The themes of community and female empowerment are weaved throughout The Sports Bra. When putting together the menu, Nguyen made a point to seek out female food purveyors, brewers and distillers. And she enlisted a local non-profit called Girls Build to have some tables made.

“They teach these young girls to build, use power tools, to measure, do construction,” said Nguyen. “I think it’s really important that the girls are able to build something and then bring their friends and families to the place and be like, ‘I built this and I am a part of this.’ Girls Build made little plaques for every table that show their name and how to donate. It’s the cycle of community that we’re trying to grow at The Sports Bra.”

Ironically, the only true challenge is finding enough women’s sports content to show on the TVs.

“Statistically, about four percent of all sports that are shown on TV are women’s sports,” said Nguyen. “So that means 96% of all sports shown on television are men’s sports. It’s not that women aren’t playing, it’s that TVs aren’t showing it. And when people think about a sports bar, they think about a place where the TVs are 24/7 sports, whether it’s commentary or replays, interviews. All of those things that are commonplace for men’s sports but are very, very rare for women’s sports.”

Nguyen says there are huge swaths of time where women’s sports aren’t being broadcast on TV.

“I think it’s really powerful to use our platform to show the discrepancies,” Nguyen said. “When you walk into The Sports Bra and, let’s say, half the TVs are turned off. You’re going to ask, ‘Why is that?’ We’re at a women’s sports bar where our main goal is to show women’s sports and we can’t do it because it’s not on. I think that says a lot.”

Nguyen says 51% of female sport spectators are men and The Sports Bra welcomes absolutely everybody.

Listen to Rachel Belle’s James Beard Award nominated podcast, “Your Last Meal.” Follow @yourlastmealpodcast on Instagram!

Rachel Belle

Rachel Belle...
Rachel Belle

Belle: This isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later

After 20 years in news radio, I'm leaving my post at KIRO Newsradio to focus on making my podcast "Your Last Meal" full-time!
3 months ago
emily post etiquette...
Rachel Belle

Emily Post’s “Etiquette” goes modern: Advice on pronouns, hugging

In 1922, Emily Post published her very first etiquette book. Since then, 18 editions have been published by five generations of Posts.
3 months ago
Rachel Belle

Combat winter blues with friluftsliv, the Nordic tradition of being outside

Friluftsliv is part of the culture in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Denmark, places that are darker and colder than Seattle in winter.
3 months ago
small talk...
Rachel Belle

Most Americans hate small talk, but Seattleites continue talking about weather

Out of 1,000 people surveyed, 71% said they prefer silence to small talk and 89% of Gen Z use their phones to avoid making small talk.
3 months ago
(Igordoon Primus/Unsplash)...
Rachel Belle

Seattle sperm bank in desperate need of Black donors

Only 2% of American sperm donors are Black men, which is causing a lot of heartache for women specifically looking for a Black donor. 
3 months ago
Photo courtesy of Rosie Grant...
Rachel Belle

Woman cooking recipes engraved on gravestones says they’re all ‘to die for’

You know that recipe your family requests at every holiday, potluck and birthday party? What if you had it engraved on your tombstone?
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Portland’s The Sports Bra is the first bar in the world to exclusively air women’s sports