This women’s sports bar is a game changer in sports entertainment

Run like a girl. Throw like a girl. Kick like a girl. Keep doing anything like a girl because The Sports Bra in Portland, Oregon, is there to support you.

In 2018, Jenny Nguyen and her friends were searching for a sports bar that was screening the NCAA Women’s Championship game. Finding a spot should have been a no-brainer, but media coverage of women’s sports is often patchy. As of last year, women’s sports had only a 15 percent share of sports coverage across the media, according to sports marketing company, Wasserman.

Despite their best efforts, Nguyen and her group couldn’t find the game on anywhere. Eventually, they persuaded a bar to show it on a TV in a corner with the volume turned down to zero. It was a disappointing way to watch an epic, nail-biting championship game.

That experience got Nguyen thinking. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt truly welcomed in any sports bar or restaurant.

“I am a woman. I’m Asian. I’m a queer person. There are a lot of intersections of my existence. So my lived experiences gives me a lot of insight into what places have lacked,” said Nguyen. “What was I missing, or how did I feel like I didn’t belong when I went to this bar?”

For all the little girls who might potentially feel unwelcome or underrepresented in the future, Nguyen made it her personal mission to create a sporting venue where they could feel at home.

Taking her vast knowledge of food as a chef for over 15 years and combining it with her sports knowledge as a former athlete, Jenny came up with a game plan. Using her life savings, help from friends and family, and a Kickstarter campaign, The Sports Bra was born.


“If I didn’t do it, then I would have to live with the idea that I had let that 7-year-old version of myself down because I was too afraid. And that basically made up the decision for me. And from that moment forward, I never looked back.”

Business boomed right away. Word spread that this dietary-inclusive restaurant and bar for marginalized groups was the place to be.

With ingredients sourced from women-owned businesses, the menu includes many sports bar favorites, as well as some of Jenny’s family recipes, such as Mom’s Baby Back Ribs and Aunt Tina’s Vietna-Wings. Staying true to The Sports Bra’s mission, there is something satisfying and yummy for everyone, including customers with dietary restrictions.

Like any business starting out, it wasn’t all slam dunks and home runs. Jenny had to lobby networks for coverage of women’s games. She had sleepless nights making ends meet, and had to double her staff almost immediately due to the bar’s popularity. Yet, the countless stories of people expressing how much this unique venue inspired them kept her going.

“I just thought about the 7-year-old and how even if one little kid comes into The [Sports] Bra and sees a future for themself in sports because of being there, it’s worth it,” explained Jenny. “It’s the best job ever.”

The Sports Bra has been groundbreaking. And, as a champion of women’s sports, Nguyen hopes there’ll be a ripple effect that will help make the sports entertainment industry more inclusive by inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.

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